Councillor Mrs Goodchild: Why I support the 3.95% Increase in Council Tax

At their budget setting meeting on Thursday 25th February 2016, the CBC councillor for Houghton Hall Ward, Liberal Democrat, Mrs Susan Goodchild, had these words of support.
The new rate for a Band D property for the Central Bedfordshire Council is  £1,360.01 (up 3.95%).

By Cllr Mrs S. Goodchild

Cllr Mrs S Goodchild, courtesy of CBC video services.
"I am always concerned when I hear about proposals to increase council tax, but from my personal experience with my constituents in Houghton Regis, which is known to have a higher proportion of residents living in poverty, then I think we must protect front line services and for this reason I will be supporting the increase in Council tax in line with the council’s recommendation.

It is however,  hugely disappointing that the Government has not listened to council’s and charities, which have been urging them to provide sufficient funding to support local welfare assistance.  We cannot pretend that this will not have an impact on the Council’s ability to improve people’s quality of life.

This Council has in the last four years made efficiency savings, whilst working extremely hard to protect the services upon which people rely.

These efficiency savings cannot be made again and I believe the savings that we as a council will need to achieve will be the most difficult yet.

In reality even having the same amount of money to spend in 4 years time, would mean that there are still significant challenges ahead for us as a Council.  We will need to make savings sufficient to compensate for any additional cost pressures that we face over the next 4 years.

Some of the challenges will include the ending of the contracting out of the National Insurance Contributions, introduction of the national living wage and the deprivation of liberty safeguards.

It is commonly held wisdom that prevention is better than cure.  Instead of waiting for people to become vulnerable and require public services, it is more financially prudent and beneficial to society and the individuals to create an environment in which people do not become reliant on public services in the first place.

I am especially pleased to see the £9.5 million for providing disabled facilities grants, this will help our more vulnerable residents who need support to stay in their existing homes, where appropriate or if this is not possible to move them to more suitable accommodation.

I would like to extend my thanks to the Directors and their staff for the hard work that has gone into producing this budget and for the support which has been provided to members, to help them to understand the process."

Listen again

Listen to the recording and hear Cllr Mrs Goodchild from about 35 minutes in: