THE COUNCIL’S main business over the next two months will be to produce the 2016/17 budget.

Each year this task gets more difficult as we try to balance out all the things we want to do against the money we have and the essential services we must provide.

However, that does not mean we have put our Vision, Priorities and Pledges on hold.

In fact, it shows just how important and relevant they are.

They will help grow the economy - to create more jobs and generate new income.

They will take services closer to local people as we work with community groups and parish councils to identify new types of service provision less dependent on council funding.

In addition, we will build resilience, which will allow us to focus more preventative services on social care issues before they arise and help more people to take care of themselves.

But, we still have to produce a balanced budget.

Like most public bodies, we have seen a reduction in funding as part of the Government’s objective to reduce the national debt and national deficit.

Alongside the lower Government grants and limits on how much income we can raise, demand for services is rising.

To respond to this, over the last decade we have changed where the money goes.

In this current financial year, 2015-16, we are spending more than 69 per cent of the council’s money on providing services to vulnerable adults and children - up from 48 per cent in 2007-08.

Since more people are living for longer with increasingly complex health needs, the council is now spending a greater amount of its money on looking after people.

We are proud to be able to help people in need, but I recognise that most people do not directly receive these services even though they pay their council tax.

Some people think of the council in terms of traditional services, like collecting waste and keeping the streets tidy.

But, as the figures above show, we spend the majority of our money on helping vulnerable people with social care needs.

To produce the balanced budget we are looking to increase council tax by 1.94 per cent, as well as adding a further two per cent to help manage the increased costs of adult social care.

We have avoided raising taxes for five years, but a continued freeze is no longer affordable.

We are also considering some specific changes to a number of services.

For example, we are looking at different ways of providing services in the community such as libraries.

You can find all the information about the council’s proposed budget on the website

Just type in “Budget 2016/17 consultation.”

I look forward to reading your comments.