Each year, councils everywhere engage with their residents about how much money they plan to spend on public services, in order to set their annual budget. Suffolk County Council is no different with a budget that funds services from gritting roads during the winter, to providing Family Hubs and keeping the most vulnerable people safe and well. The budget for Suffolk County Council services in 2022/23 is £625 million.
Between early October and the start of December, the county council collected a total of 2,617 responses. From this feedback which was made up of a wide range of individuals, it saw that social care for both adults and children were the two top areas where people feel the council should be spending more, with mental health services the next most important area. Just behind these areas, residents want more to be spent on the county’s roads and pavements and local bus services.
Within the feedback the county has seen a majority support for an increase in council tax with 48.6% stating that council tax should increase, compared with 31.8% who oppose an increase. Similarly, when asked about the specific increase in funding for adult social care, 51.7% supported an increase compared with 18.9% opposing this increase. Due to the number of residents taking part in this survey, there was a good representative view from across Suffolk, recognising that a small increase in council tax could allow the county council to continue providing the right level of service to its residents.
Newly launched focus groups also helped form part of the county council’s engagement with residents, community groups and other key local representatives. This gave the county council the opportunity to discuss the pressures it faces and understand the challenges that those in Suffolk’s communities are facing.
Following this, a budget proposal has now been developed with many factors in mind, such as ensuring the right level of funding is available to deliver statutory services and political priorities but also giving due consideration to the feedback received from the budget survey.
The proposals will first be considered by Suffolk County Council’s Scrutiny Committee in January 2023, before being debated, and voted upon, by all Suffolk County Councillors in February 2023.