Suffolk: The Budget Challenge

Suffolk County Council is telling Heart they want people to help them decide how they should spend their money.

Today marks the second phase of Suffolk County Council's budget-setting process which will help decide how best to spend the £1 billion budget it is responsible for.

The survey will include questions about adult social care, child protection services, fire and rescue and roads maintenance in order to find out which services it's users value most. The survey will help the council decide where they need to make the savings. One thing they hope to do is freeze council tax again - something which Norfolk County Council is also hoping to do.

Suffolk County Council saved £43m this year but has got to save a further £50m in the next two years because of budget cuts. A reduction of more than a quarter of its funding from central government is part of the reason for some services having to be cut back.

The survey was split into two parts. The first phase ran from the 12th September to 23rd October 2011. This looked at what services people thought the council should make savings on and the ones they would consider paying for.

The second part which runs from today to 12th December will give people the opportunity to tell the council their views on specific budget saving ideas drawn up following the first part of the survey. Throughout this phase a number of events will be held around the county.

During the process, the county council's Scrutiny Committee, which is open to the public, will have a number of opportunities to consider what is being debated and provide political challenge to the council.

The final budget will be agreed by Full Council on 9 February 2012.

Suffolk County Council Leader Mark Bee

The budget setting process is called The Budget Challenge. People can take part online, by phone or by talking to their local county councillor.

The website for the consultation is www.suffolk.gov.uk/wearelistening

Everyone taking part in the survey will be entered into a prize draw. The prize is a £250 contribution to a Suffolk-based charity of their choice.

People can also use Facebook or Twitter (@suffolkcc or #sccbudget) to give feedback - however this will not be included in the prize draw.

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