The future of Council services
An explanation of the Council’s current financial position and a chance to have your say
Have your say
On 9th October 2018 the Welsh Government published the Provisional Local Government Settlement 2019/2020. The settlement indicates the anticipated level of funding for Local Government for the coming year.
In terms of the detail, the overall settlement proposes an average reduction of 0.3% across local authorities in Wales. In the Vale of Glamorgan the reduction is 0.7%, which equates to a cash reduction of £1.037m. In real terms, taking into account inflation and other known pressures such as national pay inflation and the non funded teachers pension scheme, the budget reduction is more akin to 4.2%
Whilst the provisional settlement concerns the 2019/2020 financial year, understanding the context within which the recent announcement has been made is essential to appreciating the impact this proposed reduced level of funding will have on local services and, therefore, local tax payers. In this Council revenue savings in excess of £50m have been identified, and delivered, since 2010/2011. This is on a net revenue budget of £ £222m in the current financial year.
We have previously mentioned the Reshaping Services Strategy, which has been in place for the past four years. Through this Strategy, we have reviewed all of our activities to ensure we only provide the services and support that are required by our residents. This has resulted in varying service delivery models being adopted in different services, which has been a proactive response in a period of unprecedented financial pressure.
The outcome of this approach includes the establishment of five community libraries in the Vale which has ensured the continuation of library services in some of our smaller towns. When some local authorities have closed local libraries, we have managed to keep ours open by working in partnership with community groups.
Whilst this has seen some financial return for the Council, it is far from the level required to ensure financial stability going forward. The authority is also working to ensure that, where possible, our services take advantage of new technology to give better access to services for our residents but also to streamline our processes to be as efficient as we can be.
In addition, the Council continues to work with other authorities to provide shared services and this has enabled the authority to continue to provide those services which faced significant resilience issues as a result of ongoing financial pressure.
The pressures on Social Care are acute and well documented. As is the increased demand on education services. The commitment of this Council to support education and social care budgets has resulted in considerable savings having to be met from other services, including public protection services, waste service and transport services. Reductions in these services means that we are facing a situation where we will soon be unable to work proactively and will only be able to react when things have gone wrong, which is not only an ineffective way of working, but also not an approach which an authority such as this would wish to contemplate.
The waste management service is a complex one and one which our residents are particularly quick to respond to if the service fails or reduces in any way. The loss of recycling income and the continued erosion of the Single Revenue Grant is a considerable financial pressure on this service. We are a high performing low cost authority for this service in the Welsh context therefore it is not possible to respond to these pressures through increased efficiencies.
We have looked at increasing charges for services in some areas to contribute to the cost of delivering these valued services. One example of this is the recent consultation on the Draft Parking Strategy. However, these proposals were met with criticism and residents questioned the need to charge for parking permits or parking in town centres.
In light of this situation, we ask residents to inform us of their preference in terms of how we contribute to the required savings. Is keeping Council Tax below the Welsh average, for example, most important to residents? If this is the case, then other services will need to be charged for in order to continue to deliver them in these difficult financial circumstances.
Please share your views with us by completing the survey above or emailing more detailed responses to the address below.
Fore more detailed information, please see the reports below.