Central Bedfordshire Council news and press releases

Central Bedfordshire Council budget approved

Friday, 23 February 2024

Central Bedfordshire Council has approved its annual budget at a meeting of full Council on 22 February 2024.

The council is under huge financial pressure due to substantial increases in costs, particularly in Children’s Services and Adult Social Care where it estimates an additional £15million is needed to maintain these services. Meanwhile, inflation has been running at nearly 10 per cent for a whole year adding another £19million of additional pressure.

Many councils are facing difficult funding decisions, and most are raising Council Tax to 5% or more to help meet the rising costs.

Officers and councillors have worked together to reduce the running costs of the council. Examples include only filling essential vacancies, reducing management costs, and replacing IT equipment less frequently. However, this is not enough to ensure the council can continue to fund all of its services.

When the council consulted residents on the budget proposals, over 2,000 people took part and their feedback shaped this year’s budget.

Residents were given a choice of potential savings including reducing bus subsidies and charging for garden waste. The strongest support from the public was for charging for garden waste and this was agreed at yesterday’s meeting.

Charging for garden waste collection will provide the council with an estimated extra £2million a year which will help to offset rising costs in caring for the vulnerable.

Councillor Adam Zerny, Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council said:

"I want to thank everyone who took the time to give us their thoughts on the various options. Residents’ views were vital in putting this budget together.

"This budget has always been about protecting the key services. The changes to garden waste and Council Tax mean we can keep all our other services running such as libraries, leisure centres and children’s centres, as well as adult social care and services for children and families. 

"We are acutely aware of the increased cost of living for residents. Asking you to pay more is not something we take lightly or without careful consideration. However, without this, we would have to cut other services which would lead to higher costs and a poorer quality of care for the most vulnerable. 

"Through the public consultation and debate with councillors, the budget retains bus subsidies, and funding for community projects and the voluntary sector. It also includes plans to invest in new leisure centres in Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard. There are also proposals to introduce kerbside glass collection in the future, as well as the recently introduced recycling of coffee pods.

"In the face of great financial pressures, key services have been retained and we have worked to protect the council's reserves. This is a sensible budget. A prudent budget."