The Royal Borough is thanking everyone who took part in the public consultation on the proposed budget for 2023/24, as Cabinet is set to consider proposed changes as a result of community feedback and an extra £3.5m from Government.
The council also wishes to thank all councillors for their input during the ongoing budget setting process and for their contributions through the Overview and Scrutiny Committees.
All local authorities are legally obliged to produce a balanced budget and public engagement forms a key part of this process. The six-week budget consultation saw 373 responses submitted by residents, community groups and businesses, with nearly 7,000 questions answered overall. Analysis of this valuable community feedback will help inform discussions at Cabinet on Thursday, 9 February and Full Council on Tuesday, 21 February.
The consultation explored how many people use the different council services, their feedback on budget proposals for different directorates, and the possible impact they felt potential changes would have on them and/or their families.
People were also given the opportunity to comment on, and provide suggestions about, preventative services, improving efficiencies, and maximising council income. Funding levels for Children’s Services and Adults and Housing were identified as important priorities for many respondents, as was the need for affordable parking.
During the consultation, the Government announced an extra £3.539m in grant funding for the Royal Borough than had been assumed when preparing the draft budget. This gives the council the financial flexibility to allocate additional funding in light of the consultation responses.
Cabinet papers published today set out a number of proposed budget changes, including an additional £500,000 for Adult Social Care and £670,000 for Children’s Services, which will remove or reduce savings originally proposed in these areas, including those relating to Meals on Wheels, Family Hubs and the Youth Offending Team.
Significant investment is proposed in community safety, with £240,000 to fund four additional police officers to support neighbourhood policing across the Royal Borough, enhancing the existing partnership work with Thames Valley Police to address issues including the night-time economy, fly-tipping and other anti-social behaviour.
Other proposed budget amendments also include retaining free Sunday parking in Maidenhead, extending the Resident Parking Discount Scheme to further car parks, investment to provide four environmental enforcement officers, and additional budget for road maintenance, the appearance of town centres, and air quality monitoring.
Councillor Andrew Johnson, the council leader, said: “Thank you to all residents, businesses, and community groups who took part in this crucial consultation. The budget changes proposed as a result of community feedback really serve to highlight the value of local voices, expressed through public consultation, in genuinely shaping public services and investment in areas that matter most to communities.
“The proposed changes take on board the community’s strength of feeling around funding for social services. Thanks to additional funding from Government, there is welcome scope to amend the proposals relating to funding for adults and children, in addition to investing in other community priorities such as environmental enforcement, parking and community safety, and investing in four more warranted police officers for our borough.
“As many other local authorities have also found, rising costs and ongoing financial pressures outside of the council’s control have made balancing the budget for 2023/24 more challenging. Despite this, the council was able to propose a balanced budget for consultation at the earliest opportunity and has been able to respond to many of the comments raised in the consultation while also maintaining efficient services that offer value for money, with a focus on our Corporate Plan.
“The budget is a decision for Cabinet and then Full Council. I am extremely encouraged by the positive level of community engagement and look forward to discussing the amended draft budget and public feedback with councillors.”