Still time to have your say on city budget

Civic Offices
Civic Offices

THE deadline is fast approaching for public comments on Milton Keynes Council’s proposed budget for the coming year.

This year’s budget, which includes a recommendation for freeze in Council Tax, is aimed at finding £14m savings, as part of nearly £52m savings over the next four years, whilst still maintaining essential services.

The consultation ends this Friday and you can make your views known by logging onto this website sending an email to this address calling MK Council on 01908 252696 or by writing to them at Budget 2012, Freepost ANG7122, Milton Keynes Council, Civic Offices, 1 Saxon Gate East, MK9 3HG.

The outcome of the consultation exercise will be reported to the Cabinet meeting on February 14 at 7pm, when final proposals will be submitted for consideration by the Council on February 21.

Councillor Andrew Geary, council leader, said: “The decisions that we make at Cabinet, and then full Council next month will impact on everyone across Milton Keynes, so it is important that we have as much input from local people as possible.

“We are working very hard behind the scenes, and we have already identified the £14m we need to save in the coming year, as part of our work on the overall savings required for the next few years.

“We are pleased to be able to recommend a zero rise in Council Tax, which has been made possible by a special government grant to offset any resultant shortfall in funding.

“Whilst we are doing our best to make savings through internal efficiencies in the way we operate, there will still be some tough choices to be made in what continues to be a very challenging time.”

A snapshot of the main budget proposals include:

Delivering savings through the Organisational Transformation Programme – planning for the future and making decisions about major organisational change. The project has so far identified potential savings of £6.7m over the medium term. This will increase as some of the major projects progress and their benefits can be quantified.

Investing to save projects, where some up front investment will generate long term benefits and reduce costs in the medium term. For example the Residual Waste Treatment Plant and “dimming and trimming” of street lights.

Renegotiating the council’s contracts to improve value for money and reduce costs – this is often working in collaboration with providers, who realise the difficult financial position of local authorities. In 2012/13 alone, we expect this to save at least £3.6m. A good example is the imminent relocation of the city’s waste processing site, where we will be able to do almost everything in the same place (e.g recycling, residual waste treatment and vehicle storage) thereby saving fuel, time and money and reducing our overall carbon footprint.

Improving efficiency and opportunities for cost reduction, through improved procurement, commissioning and shared services. This is expected to save £7m in 2012/13 (this includes the £3.6m for contractual efficiency in the point above). This includes the renegotiation of the Mouchel contract, which has refocused the Strategic Partnership and has resulted in £16m of savings over the remaining life of the contract.

Redesigning services to make them more cost effective and efficient, for example the redesign of Regulatory Services, a review of the libraries service and a redesign of children and families service.

Generation of additional income through new opportunities and changes in fees and charges (e.g. bulky waste, result of Adult Social Care charging changes implemented last year, car parking changes)

Consideration of the transfer of services to those who are best placed to deliver them (e.g. parishes and voluntary organisations). For example the day nurseries, current offer to parishes and Community Facilities project.