Bracknell Forest Council will consider draft proposals for its 2018 to 2019 budget next week at a meeting of the council’s executive.
The potential overall cost of the services to be provided in the budget proposals being consulted on, is in the region of £80m. The draft proposals include savings from the council’s transformation programme of over £6m and efficiency savings of £3m. Despite this, increasing demand on local services means the council is likely to face a budget gap of around £5m in 2018 to 2019.
This budget gap will need to be bridged by a combination of further spending reductions, drawing from reserves and/or an increase in council tax. The formal decision on any increase to council tax will not be made until February 2018.
Since becoming a unitary authority in 1998, the council has achieved savings of over £80m. The 2018 to 2019 budget proposals will consult on further savings that help ensure front line services, and in particular those supporting vulnerable people, continue to be protected.
Cllr Paul Bettison OBE, leader of Bracknell Forest Council, said:
Bracknell Forest continues to faces significant financial challenges in line with all other local authorities.
We took a range of prudent steps last year including starting to implement our council-wide transformation programme. The outcomes of these have already helped us deliver large scale savings, at the same time as bringing about positive change for residents.
We have introduced new, faster, more efficient technology, digitally enabling our services to make every day transactions quicker and more convenient. This has responded to the modern ways our residents wish to engage with the council and has allowed us to focus our attention where it’s really needed most.
In effect, for several years we have been looking to do things differently rather than simply stopping doing some things altogether.
Our draft proposals show we are approaching 2018 to 2019 in an equally careful and balanced way to continue to minimise impact on our residents.
Cllr Peter Heydon, executive member for transformation and finance, said:
Each year we have no choice but to identify savings and introduce them as quickly as possible. Our transformation programme has been put in place to help ensure we are systematically thinking about delivering services in different ways.
An example that will help balance next year’s budget is transferring the management of our high quality leisure facilities to another operator, while retaining ownership of them. This will introduce new specialist expertise and additional new investment with the advantage of being part of a wider leisure management group, securing the long-term sustainability of the facilities.
We are committed to consulting with residents on all major changes and making the best financial decisions available to us to minimise impact on our communities. I would therefore encourage our residents to look at the draft budget proposals on the council’s website, and to take the time to feed back their thoughts on them.
It is important to the administration that we spend our money wisely on things that make the greatest positive contribution to people’s lives and continue to provide value for money.
The executive will discuss the draft revenue and capital budget proposals when it meets on Tuesday, 19 December. If the executive agree to the proposals, a full public consultation will run from Wednesday, 20 December 2017 to Tuesday, 30 January 2018.
The final budget, including the proposed level of council tax for 2018 to 2019, will be determined by full council on 28 February 2018, following the council’s normal consultation period.
You can read the full budget proposals on our draft budget proposal webpage.