Cost of living to impact council’s budget
Suffolk County Council is keen to hear from Suffolk residents, businesses and local communities, as it decides its budget for next year.
An online survey has been launched, and a number of focus groups will be held, for you to have your say on the services which are important to you.
A summary of your responses will be included in the report considered by the council when agreeing the budget in February 2023.
The budget setting process includes your thoughts, advice from council officers, elected members from political groups, businesses and partners in health and other public service organisations across Suffolk.
Councillor Richard Rout, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Environment at Suffolk County Council, said:
“Setting our budget each year is always challenging, but I always strive to offer taxpayers the best possible value. We work hard to maintain all our services and invest where can, which is what we were able to achieve last year.
“However, this year is going to be much more difficult. Many people that I speak to think that councils are not affected by the increase in the cost of living – unfortunately this is not the case. Many of the pressures households are facing, we are facing too.
“The high rates of inflation mean that our day-to-day costs are going up, the things that we need to buy today are markedly more expensive than this time last year. On top of which, we are still feeling the effects of the pandemic, and continue to see more demand for our services, particularly caring for adults and young people.
“All this means that we need a significant increase to our budget, just to be in a position to provide the same level of service as last year. If we want to spend more money on one service, we must reduce the spend on another, that’s the balance we have to find.”
The two main ways in which the council can increase its budget, are an increase in the money it receives from Government, and by increasing its share of council tax bills.
Last year, Suffolk County Council increased its overall share of council tax by 2.99%, the equivalent of 80p per week for a Band D property. It continues to lobby central government, alongside many local authorities, to evidence the need for more funding for local services.
With careful financial planning and management, the council has saved hundreds of millions of pounds in recent years. This has been achieved through transformation programs which have made the organisation leaner, whilst still protecting many services from large-scale reductions. It also committed £12.8m to the decarbonisation of its estate, which has already achieved impressive results. One of the council’s main operational buildings has seen a year-on-year reduction in gas consumption by 84%, meaning financial and carbon savings.
A proposed budget will be presented at a Cabinet meeting in January 2023 and the final budget will be discussed at Full Council in February 2023.
The online survey is open throughout October and November, and focus groups are being organised with local community groups and for members of the public. Details of these will be shared on the council’s website and social media channels in due course.