Herefordshire Council’s cabinet has announced its response to the recent public budget consultation.
The consultation ran from 24 October 2013 and received over 700 responses from members of the public, official representatives and local organisations across the county.
The consultation has produced a number of proposals and areas for further consideration, which have informed the development of budget proposals for 2014/15 and the proposed medium term financial strategy, which will be considered by full council on 7 February.
- We will not be holding a council tax referendum on a 5 per cent rise, in view of the consultation responses. We will only raise council tax by 1.9 per cent.
- We will proceed with the changes to our council tax reduction scheme, which will see working age claimants paying more of their bill themselves.
- We still need to reduce the cost of our library service from April 2015 and will work towards improved self service, online services, volunteer and user group support and possibly local financial assistance.
- Last year we appointed Balfour Beatty Living Places as our highways and related services provider with a commitment to improving these services. We have also included an additional £20million capital investment in to our budget to improve the county’s roads over the next two years, reducing the need for future reactive maintenance.
- We will do everything we can to protect vital ‘market day’ bus services in rural areas.
- We recognise that there is a need for additional housing and this has been incorporated into our budget to enable us to deliver a significant number of affordable units.
- We will continue to deliver targeted, evidence based preventative strategies which support the county’s most vulnerable residents, whilst ensuring efficient use of taxpayers’ money.
- We will continue to invest in public health initiatives which will be an important factor in protecting and improving children’s health.
- We will continue to investigate ways to reduce our internal operating costs across the council. We have already significantly reduced our costs with over 300 redundancies in the last two years, capping redundancy payments and asking all staff to take two days of unpaid leave at Christmas, which has saved £225,000.
Councillor Tony Johnson, leader of Herefordshire Council, said: “It is well known that we are facing significant reductions in our government funding and yet it is imperative that we still deliver our priorities of keeping children and young people safe and giving them the best start in life, enabling residents to live safe, healthy and independent lives and investing in projects to improve roads, create jobs and build more homes.
“The recent budget consultation provided a number of detailed suggestions for ways in which we can deliver services differently and more cost effectively and we will be considering these over the coming months.
“In order to meet our priorities, we need to continue encouraging individuals, communities and organisations to do more for themselves and their local areas, reducing the costs and level of services provided and ensuring that the services we do provide are well delivered and cost effective.”
For further information, please read a copy of the delivering our priorities with much less money report.