- Strategy 2014 - Meeting the challenge
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- News releases 2011
- 1 March 2011 - Council's Cabinet recommends Council Tax freeze
- 17 March 2011 - Deadline set for community groups wishing to take on libraries
- 25 May 2011 - Changes to Sunday and evening car park charges
- 6 June 2011 - Bexley and Bromley move a step closer to sharing library services
- 6 June 2011 - Focus on core service means mobile library service may end
- 12 August 2011 - Library opening hours set to change
- 17 October 2011 - Shared services library date brought forward
- 19 December 2011 - Community group to manage Bexley Village Library
1 March 2011 - Council's Cabinet recommends Council Tax freeze
Bexley's Council Tax will not increase this year, if next week's full Council meeting approves the recommendation of yesterday's Cabinet meeting.
The Mayor of London has already announced a similar freeze of the Greater London Authority's Council Tax, so households in Bexley are likely to see no change in their Council Tax when bills are issued later this month.
"We believe it is important to freeze our Council Tax because we know that some people are struggling in the face of rising costs and falling family incomes," explained Cllr Teresa O'Neill, the Leader of the Council. "Government has reduced our grant as it works to get public spending under control and, like every council up and down the country, we have had to make some tough decisions.
"We have given priority to safeguarding frontline services and to ensuring the safety of those in most need, as we said we would. We will also continue to work to give the best possible start in life to our young people."
Cllr Colin Campbell, Cabinet member for Finance and Corporate Services, explained that the budget is the result of more than a year of planning. "We knew well before last year's general election that the new government would need to take action to cut the deficit, so we started to plan for tougher times at the end of 2009. Our aim has been to find savings that have least impact on frontline services.
"Around half the savings we are making will be achieved through increased efficiency, including improving the way we buy goods and services. We are also transforming the way we work, so that we can do more with less money and fewer staff."
At last night's meeting, the Cabinet considered a comprehensive report on the Council's financial position and the feedback from the three-month public consultation on its budget proposals.
Finance Director, Mike Ellsmore, described the budget process as "the most intensive ever" and reminded everyone of the difficult financial climate facing the country.
The recommended budget for 2011-12 includes a savings target of just under £19m - the first step towards a total of £35m over the next three years.
The budget includes -
- An extra £900,000 for the care of elderly residents
- More than £1m for the modernisation of social care computer systems
- An extra £250,000 for legal costs linked to child protection.
Provision has also been made for increased landfill costs, higher employers' National Insurance contributions and the loss of car park income due to the recession.
The Council's middle and senior managers are in the second year of a pay freeze and the Council is projecting an underspend on staffing for the current year of just under £½m, which has helped protect frontline services.
"I would like to thank all those who gave us feedback on our budget proposals," said Cllr O'Neill. "The overwhelming majority expressed their support for what we are doing, although they clearly found it difficult to know where savings could be made.
"People raised a lot of detailed issues and we will be looking at these more closely as we move to implement our proposals," she added. "The biggest single issue for people was concern about the closure of libraries and I am pleased to reassure them that we hope to avoid this by looking more closely at the option of community management for some of our less busy libraries."
The new budget, including increased fees and charges, will take effect from 1 April.
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