Central Bedfordshire Council is consulting on its draft budget for 2023/24.
The Council’s Executive is recommending no increase in its part of the Council Tax* for the next financial year. We are all very aware of the financial pressures our residents are under as inflation and the cost of living continues to rise. Even though the Council’s running costs have also risen and demand for our adult social care and children’s services continues to increase, careful budget management over several years means we have been able to keep Council Tax at its current level.
We will not be cutting services or investment in projects such as roads, schools, leisure centres and care homes. There will be increased spending in some areas including care for older people, adults with disabilities, support for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and children who need our protection. Green waste collection will remain free in Central Bedfordshire and we have no plans to move to three weekly household waste collection.
We pride ourselves on excellent financial management and planning which has provided protection against the impact of a huge increase in inflation. We are always looking for ways to deliver our services more effectively and we will be using some of our reserves (savings) so we will not be raising our share of Council Tax next year.
Paper copies will be available in our libraries and you can request a paper copy by calling 0300 300 8000.
* Your Council Tax bill includes Council Tax that pays for Police, Fire and your Town or Parish Council, these organisations set their own increases and if they raise their share of Council Tax your bill will increase.
As is right and proper, announcements about new Government policies were paused during the national period of mourning.
We now look forward to the new Government, headed by Liz Truss who has moved quickly to announce very significant help with energy bills over the next two years for hard-pressed households and a six-month scheme for most business organisations including charities and public bodies.
Then, on Friday during the fiscal event, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced exciting new policies to accelerate economic growth. This included new Investment Zones in 38 local authority areas, including Central Bedfordshire. We are working hard with government to introduce these as soon as possible.
We want to encourage more opportunities to enable our residents to work closer to home and to have rewarding employment. Investment Zones can help us to achieve this.
A possible location could be an 84-acre site in Cranfield where Marshall’s are considering relocating from Cambridge. They would join an existing cutting-edge research and aerospace innovation community. Enabling this to happen at speed will expand local employment and training opportunities.
We are also looking at several other potential sites across Central Bedfordshire and I look forward to sharing more details about this exciting initiative over the coming months.
Local businesses across the country, including here in Central Bedfordshire, are looking forward to this Saturday (4 December).
Now in its ninth year, Small Business Saturday has become a calendar staple since its humble roots. It started as a grassroots campaign to encourage people to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their area.
The campaign has grown in popularity and in light of the ongoing pandemic, people appreciate the important contribution small businesses make to the national economy as well as being at the centre of our communities. Many local people depend on their local businesses and vice versa.
Last year the campaign achieved record-breaking success with an estimated £1.1 billion spent across the UK on the day.
The way people shop has changed massively over time, from individual greengrocers, butchers, and bakeries to the arrival of supermarkets where everything became available in one place. Convenience and speed are important for many shoppers now and whilst online shopping is now used by many, it is important to remember that local businesses can offer the same level of service, local produce and keen pricing.
2021 has proved to be another challenging year for the retail sector, making it vital for people to support small businesses in any way they can. Supporting businesses is a priority for the council and we have recently extended our Business Support Programme to offer more schemes for local businesses. Working with Cranfield University and SEMLEP we are running innovative programmes for businesses helping them to grow or recover.
As a customer, we each can help to maintain our independent businesses. I encourage you to buy local not just this Saturday but throughout the year.
There are many ways you can show your support for Small Business Saturday. Leaving a positive review or sharing a social media post can help boost their profile in your area.