Luton Borough Council
13/12/2022 - The council's budget, council tax and cost of living - come speak to local decision makers
The council, just like many households across the town, is facing some difficult financial decisions over the coming weeks and months.
The town’s political leaders and decision makers want to hear from you.
Come along to ask questions, make suggestions and hear about the support that is available to you and your family through the cost of living crisis:
- 17 Dec, 10am to 2pm, The Mall
- 7 Jan, 9.30am to 2.30pm, Inspire Sports Village
- 10 Jan, 10am to 4pm, Bury Park Community Centre
We hope to plan additional events in the north of Luton and in the Chaul End area. Details of which will become available on the website.
A statement from Councillor Hazel Simmons MBE, Leader of Luton Council:
Households facing the squeeze
As leader of the council it saddens me to once again have to tell you that – through no fault of your own, or of the council’s, the next year or so will be difficult for each one of us.
The last two years have been extremely challenging for everyone in so many ways – not least financially. At the beginning of this year there were high hopes of a brighter future in the short term.
Things have not turned out this way.
The highest level of inflation for 40 years, the cost of living crisis, the war in Ukraine and other factors have caused huge difficulties for all of us and pushed many individuals and families to the brink.
Council facing financial pressure
The council has not been immune from these severe financial pressures. In addition to the issues mentioned above, we have had to deal with rising costs, a rise in demand for services, reduced income and a nationally decided pay rise for our staff which was higher than what we had budgeted for.
All of this comes on the back, not only of the impact of Covid-19 on our airport company, Luton Rising, but over a decade of austerity in which, alongside a reduction in central government funding, we have been forced to take £160m out of our budget over the last 12 years.
Resolving this challenge will once again prove extremely challenging. We have already had to consider changes to this year’s budget in order to meet these additional pressures. The law requires all councils to balance their books and across the country local authorities will struggle to do this.
Setting next year’s budget and council tax rate
Unfortunately, the challenges we and other councils face do not stop in March. Rising inflation and increasing demand for our services brought about by inflation and the cost of living crisis means that the cost of running the council’s 700+ services has drastically increased.
This means that further savings need to be found to the tune of £7.37m in 2023/24.
In the recent Autumn statement the government announced that councils will have flexibility to increase council tax by up to 5% (up from 3%). We know what extra pressures this will place on so many of you.
Nevertheless, this is something we, and many councils up and down the country, are reluctantly expecting to do given that no additional support is expected from the government. Even with the increase our rates are likely to remain the lowest in Bedfordshire and we will continue to operate our council tax support scheme for those who are struggling the most.
In addition, as a result of inflationary and demand pressures, we anticipate various measures to meet the 2023/24 savings requirements including:
- increasing council tax
- increase in fees and charges for certain services
- reducing concessionary fares to bus operators – which may have an impact on the range of services they are able to provide
It is likely that further difficult savings decisions will need to be made which is why it is so important we hear from you.
We will also continue to lobby the government on your behalf to ask for additional funding support in order to ensure everyone in our town gets the care and support they need.
Tell us your thoughts
The decisions that must be made will be hard and we are very much wishing to engage with residents to help shape our plans.
The events will give you a chance to meet with members of the council’s executive as well as key officers. Please come along and talk to us about the challenges we are all facing and hear about the support that is available to you and your family to support you through the cost of living crisis.
Alternatively please complete the relevant form in our engagement area if you have any comments or suggestions www.luton.gov.uk/consult.
© 2023 Luton Council, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ