Budget 2024-2025

How is the council cutting costs?

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The proposals to increase efficiency and make some changes to services would reduce costs by £25million next year.

To protect and maintain services and keep Council Tax increases as low as possible the council is reviewing how it works to maximise efficiency and reduce running costs. Running costs have been reduced by £185million since 2009.

Significant steps have already been taken to limit spending in 2023/24. For example, the council is only recruiting to essential roles and reviewing every penny it spends to consider if it is absolutely necessary.

Efficiency proposals in the draft budget include:

  • Radically restructuring some back-office support services and other teams.
  • Reducing management costs.
  • Replacing IT hardware (e.g. laptops) less frequently and reviewing software costs.
  • Recruiting our own foster carers, reducing the need for more expensive agencies.
  • Developing an income stream by leasing the new care homes the council is building in Leighton Buzzard (Marigold House) and Steppingley Road in Flitwick to care providers.
  • Lower care costs by replacing old care homes with modern care homes and providing extra care/ independent living schemes and day services.

Working more efficiently cannot plug the budget gap alone. The council also needs to make some changes to some services too. 

Changes include:

  • Introduce charging for garden waste collection. Doing so would reduce costs by £2million based on 46 per cent uptake at £55 per bin. The winter collection break would continue.
  • Reviewing care packages for older people and people with a learning and physical disability to be sure they are proportionate to their needs and offer the best value. Right-sizing care packages can reduce costs, but also improve outcomes for people because it encourages independence and reduces reliance on social care services. These are well established practices in the council that prove to be more cost effective without compromising the quality of care and support people need. The approach will aim to reduce overall costs by over £1.8million a year, whilst maintaining or enhancing support to residents.
  • Modernising the approach to day care, investing in extra care accommodation and using assistive technology more. These are well established practices in the council that prove to be more cost effective without compromising the quality of care and support people need. This will save around £900,000 a year.
  • Reducing plans for building new assets and maintaining physical infrastructure like buildings and roads. This is called the capital programme, and although it is not funded by Council Tax, it is funded by borrowing and selling council assets and reinvesting this money in facilities. Therefore, it does have an impact on the service budget as the interest paid on borrowing, and a provision to repay the amount borrowed, is paid from the service (revenue) budget. You can read more about the Capital Programme.
  • Educational transport, which is a significant and increasing cost pressure. This has been largely affected by a determination to meet the council’s obligations on those with special educational needs or disability (SEND). The council is reviewing its approach to school transport and work is already underway to optimise routes to manage these increasing costs going forward. This would save £610,000 next year and more savings in future years. You can read more about the proposed changes online and have your say on the consultation.
  • Reducing reimbursement of concessionary bus fares to reflect current passenger numbers. Older people and disabled people can travel free on all local bus services, and local authorities are required to reimburse bus operators for journeys made by those with a pass to make sure that bus operators are no better or no worse off. During the pandemic, passenger numbers dropped but the council continued to reimburse bus companies based on pre-pandemic passenger numbers to help the bus industry recover from the impact of Covid-19. The council is now proposing to reduce the reimbursement to bus operators to reflect current passenger numbers more accurately. This would reduce costs by £400,000 a year.
  • Improving customer service and offering more online and automated services for those who can use them, saving £200,000 a year.
  • Using more modern energy-efficient LED lights that provide better quality light and enable us to dim them, saving £146,000 a year.
  • Achieving savings by moving to cashless payments only in all of the council public car parks and halving the amount of free parking in the two public car parks where it is offered. The proposals also include more pay and display on-street parking and increasing parking fees for resident parking zones. This will enable the council to cover the costs of administering and enforcing permit parking.
  • Improving sustainability by not providing free caddy liners for food waste bins. The food waste bags take a long time to degrade and sometimes cause problems for processing machines. This would also reduce costs by £70,000 a year.

Note: Any of the proposals which could result in significant changes affecting residents or staff will be subject to appropriate consultation and equality impact assessments before a final decision is taken. This will allow the council to set out exactly how the changes would be implemented and for residents to give more detailed feedback to inform new policies and plans.

Read more

You can read about all of the efficiencies in detail in the draft budget papers on this website.