Share your thoughts on prioritising future County Council Services as part of planning the 2022/23 budget

Published

Public consultation launched to find out where people place their priorities and thoughts on how council funds its services.

Following the Chancellor’s recent Spending Review and Autumn Budget, Suffolk County Council will have the option to raise Council Tax by 2% and the Adult Social Care Precept by 2%. With local authorities continuing to respond to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, global supply chain issues and climate change, Suffolk County Council is asking residents for their thoughts on helping the council prioritise its funding towards services in the coming financial year alongside meeting the continuing costs of statutory care services.

Although the last two years have proved to be an extraordinary time, the county council continues to aim to provide the best possible outcomes for local people through a multitude of frontline services that support residents, businesses, and the county at large.

With rising costs and increasing service demand year on year, the finances at our disposal have to be carefully planned and considered for us to continue to achieve a balanced budget each year in extremely challenging circumstances.

Suffolk County Council’s priorities this year are to:

  • promote and support the health and wellbeing of all people in Suffolk
  • strengthen our local economy
  • protect and enhance our environment
  • provide value for money for the Suffolk taxpayer

With careful financial management and planning, the county council has already saved hundreds of millions of pounds during the last decade, whilst being innovative in the delivery of many of its services. Many challenges remain in the light of the recent pandemic, and the continuing difficult financial position that many local authorities have faced for a number of years.

Councillor Richard Rout, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Environment at Suffolk County Council, says:

“Local public services continue to face many financial challenges as we look to recover from COVID, address rising energy costs and invest our limited resources and money in the priority areas of service to protect our most vulnerable residents.

“As part of the annual budgeting process, it is important to hear your thoughts on the services we deliver, to understand which ones you believe should be prioritised, and how we may look to fund future spending in these areas.

“Did you know that around 75p of every £1 Suffolk County Council spends goes towards supporting those who need it most through Adult Care, Children’s Services, and Public Health?

“The remaining 25p in every £1 is then used to cover the cost of the many other vital services we provide, including Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, road maintenance, footpaths, waste services, libraries and addressing the challenges surrounding climate change, to name just a handful. Year on year we are seeing particular challenges in continuing to provide adult care and children’s services within budget. Adult care alone costs around £271m each year.

“We are absolutely committed to providing the best services for all residents, but like all councils we do not have unlimited funds. This means that if residents want us to spend more money on certain services, we have to spend less in other areas in order to continue to balance our budget now and in the future.

“I want to understand more about the areas you want us to focus on with the budget that we have left over after covering our statutory care duties. Whilst this may be limited, we continue to use every penny wisely to bring many benefits to Suffolk. As part of this engagement, we want to find out where people place their priorities and how they feel about the way in which we fund these services.

“Thank you for your participation in this important aspect of planning our annual budget.”

Councillor Rout continues:

“I’m encouraged by the fact that the Chancellor has recognised the excellent work carried out by local authorities in the last year announcing new grant funding of £4.8billion for local authorities over the next three years. We wait to see in the coming months, how much comes to Suffolk.”

A proposed budget will be presented at the Cabinet meeting on 1 February 2022 and the final budget will be discussed at Full Council on 17 February 2022.

More information about the council’s finances and the consultation can be found at suffolk.gov.uk/budget2022

The consultation closes on Monday 20 December 2021.