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Council seeks votes on budget spending

road diversions
Increased council spending or cuts in services, the choices offered by Herts.
Camera courtesy of Fujifilm
Herts county has set up an online survey to see whether local residents would be prepared to pay more for council services.

The authority has published an online questionnaire. It lists the services the council provides, and asks people to tick a series of boxes.

Herts warns that the funding gap the authority faces has to be met, either by increasing council tax, or by making cuts to services.

There are two choices alongside each service.

YES - I'd be prepared to pay more, or NO - I'm not prepared to pay more.

There are no options for indicating whether people feel they are currently receiving value for money.

The survey invites people to add their names and addresses, but it doesnít offer a facility for adding comments.

It asks whether you would be prepared to pay more for...

  • increasing funding for schools
  • supporting elderly people
  • supporting carers
  • facilities at our libraries
  • more on roads and road safety
  • improving fire and rescue
  • helping people with disabilities.
Click here for the survey page at Herts Direct.

Click here for the page setting out the reasons for the survey.

Herts says that just under two thirds of the cost of local services comes from central Government. According to the authority, the rest is paid for by people living in Hertfordshire, through council tax and charges for some services.

The council says that it tries to keep the cost of services as low as possible by being efficient and providing good value for money. It claims that, according to the Audit Commission, the County Council is one of the top performing councils in the country.

However, Herts says the cost of providing local services is rising by more than the rate of inflation for a number of reasons, including the following.

  • More people live in Hertfordshire which means more children in schools and more demand for other services.
  • An ageing population means more elderly people needing support and reassurance.
  • Changes in legislation and new standards have increased the cost of the services the council provide or fund.
  • The cost of protecting and supporting children at risk of harm is putting the councilís budget under increasing pressure.
  • National changes to pension schemes have significantly increased the councilís costs.

You can discuss this issue in this site's forum.

3 October 2003

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