The Progressive Alliance that runs Milton Keynes Council has released its draft budget for 2022 and pledged to put people and services first when deciding how money should be spent.
Unlike other councils up and down the country that are having to slash services to balance the books, no service cuts are being proposed in Milton Keynes next year. In fact, additional spending is being proposed to maintain weekly residual waste collections, tackle litter and fly-tipping and improve the appearance of grid road landscaping.
The Progressive Alliance is also proposing more resources to help homeless families and will continue to offer support for the most vulnerable residents and children.
Other proposals include continuing support to businesses during the pandemic recovery, help for high streets and freezing car parking charges in CMK for the sixth successive year in a row to support the city centre.
Budget papers reveal that MK Council needs to find £5m next year to balance the books.
An additional £4m is being spent on increasing demand for social care, which now accounts for almost half of all council spending. The highest inflation rate in a decade has increased the costs of several council contracts to run services, and soaring energy prices mean that the council needs to find an extra 25% to pay the energy bills to literally keep the lights on.
Milton Keynes Council already has one of the lowest council tax rates in the country, with the average Band D property paying £1,465.59, which is around £150 a year cheaper than our regional neighbours.
Leading councillors say they are determined to try to avoid passing the increasing costs of running services on to residents if possible, and despite having the ability to increase council tax by over 5%, proposals are to go for a lower than inflation increase of 3.75%. Proposals to cut the funding gap also include using £3m of reserves to fund one-off and short-term pressures, as well as £2m in efficiency savings.
The work the council has done supporting jobs, the local economy and high streets has led to some good news, with stronger than expected tax revenue reducing the need for cuts or higher council tax rises.
Cllr Rob Middleton, Cabinet Member for Resources, said:
“The Progressive Alliance budget we are proposing for consultation today looks to put people and services first. Other councils up and down the country are cutting back services and ripping away vital support from the most vulnerable, because of a decade of Conservative cuts. But here in Milton Keynes we are not making cuts, in fact, we are continuing to invest in the things that matter, while providing value for money and keeping council tax low.”
Cllr Robin Bradburn, Deputy Leader of the Council, said:
“I’m proud of the budget the Progressive Alliance has put together and the work we are doing. We’ve supported jobs and our local economy which means we can continue next year without making the cuts to services and support that we have seen in other places. I’m also proud that the budget continues to focus on Liberal Democrat priorities of supporting the most vulnerable and tackling child poverty.”
Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of MK Council, said:
“The past two years have been tough. The pandemic has hit everyone hard and battered council finances. Demand for social care continues to rise and costs are rapidly increasing; inflation, higher energy bills and a volatile situation all mean this is a very difficult budget.
“However, with a below-inflation council tax rise, no cuts to services and, actually, increasing investment on the things that people want to see, like weekly waste collections, tackling fly tipping and improving grid roads, we believe our budget proposals strike the right balance between value for money and putting people and services first.”