The Vale of Glamorgan Council is changing. For the last six years the Council has been making significant savings across the organisation. By operating more efficiently and changing the way in which we deliver some services we have so far been able to save nearly £35m – the equivalent of 16% of next year’s total budget - while continuing to provide the vast majority of services that we always have.
However, the cuts to the Council’s budget are set to continue and we anticipate that we will have to continue making savings at the rate we have been for the foreseeable future. Our current projections are that we will need to save another £12m next year and at least a further £6m in 2017/18.
At the same time as our budget to deliver services is reducing, the demand for some of our most costly services is rising fast. Education and social services account for nearly three quarters of the Council’s budget. The Council is bound by Welsh Government’s pledge to protect education spending. Meanwhile a number of factors beyond our control, such as an ageing population of the Vale are driving up demand for, and cost of delivering, social care. For example the cost to the Council of caring for people in their own homes has increased from £4m in 2010/11 to more than £10m in 2015/16. These factors make finding savings in these areas exceptionally difficult. As a result the bulk must be found elsewhere.
Clearly £18m of savings on top of what has already been achieved means there will need to be some radical changes to how our services are delivered.
You can find more information about the Council's current financial position in our budget 2016/17 FAQs.
What does the future hold?
The Vale of Glamorgan Council has no choice but to balance the books by making the savings required. This is going to be very challenging. However, we believe that the need for change also presents us with a great opportunity to change the way we work for the better.
There are 127,000 people who live in the Vale of Glamorgan. All of them rely on our services and we believe that they should expect the Council to deliver the best level of service possible with the money available. The Vale of Glamorgan Council has an excellent track record of delivering top quality services on a limited budget. Indeed the Vale of Glamorgan Council was this year ranked as the top performing local authority in Wales despite receiving one of the lowest levels of funding for each of our residents.
Our track record means that we are confident that while changing the way we work, we will also be able to improve the services that we deliver. How we intend to do this, and the areas on which we plan to focus our efforts over the next four years are being set out in a new corporate plan.
The corporate plan sets out the Council’s planned strategic direction for the next four years. It makes clear that focus of our work will to build on the strong foundations established in recent years and further develop the Vale of Glamorgan for the future. The plan sets out a programme of actions that we are confident we can deliver and that we believe will make a positive difference.
How can I get involved in shaping the future of the Vale?
The best services are those that are designed in partnership with those that use them and we know that we can only achieve what we have set out to by effectively engaging residents and communities in the process. In previous years we have, like many other local authorities, asked our residents which services they value the most and what they feel our priorities should be. We have learned a great deal from these exercises and the information that we have gathered has informed our new corporate plan.
We now need to move on to the next stage. This means talking specifically about the changes we need to make to our services in order to meet our savings targets. This is not something that we can do just once a year. Instead we need to begin an ongoing process - a conversation - with Vale residents about how we can best manage the changes that we must make.
This new section of our website will provide the forum through which we do this. We will provide regular updates on changes to our finances, the progress of the reshaping services programme, and the implementation of our corporate plan. We hope that by providing you with this information, you will be able to offer feedback and suggestions to help us move forwards together.
The first issue up for discussion is our new corporate plan. The plan will be one of the factors that determine how resources will be allocated in the near future and so your feedback, as well as shaping the final plan, will have a direct impact on the setting of next year's budget. We've created an online survey to make it as easy as possible for you to tell us your views. We've also incorporated into this a number of questions about setting next year's budget.
The consultation has now closed and a report on the outcome will now be presented to cabinet