Council sets out scale of financial challenge
THE Vale of Glamorgan Council has set out the scale of its financial challenge in a report that will be considered by the Authority’s Cabinet next week.
With costs rising at a much greater rate than funding, the organisation is facing unprecedented difficulties in maintaining the services it delivers to residents.
An initial forecast indicated that Council costs will rise by 38.525 million for the next financial year.
After taking action to manage those pressures, the figure has been reduced to £20.767 million.
However, that still leaves a budget shortfall of more than £10.5 million after factoring in the anticipated increase in funding the Council will receive from Welsh Government and other sources.
Spending to ensure the Vale’s most vulnerable residents receive appropriate social care is also £8 million more than anticipated for this financial year.
Cllr Lis Burnett, Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council, said: “I want to be very clear that this is the most difficult financial situation the Council has been in and setting the next budget will be tougher than ever before.
“It is a simple fact that costs are increasing at a much higher rate than funding, meaning there is a significant and growing gap between what the Council can afford to pay for now and what will be possible in the future.
“Currently, we are looking for efficiency improvements and savings opportunities across all areas, while there will also need to be a careful use of Council funding reserves. However, there is no disguising the fact that some difficult and unpalatable decisions lie ahead as we aim to best allocate the money available to us.
“What will remain an absolute priority is maintaining services for those in our communities that need them most. We will always make sure our children, older people and those with additional needs are properly looked after.”
The Council’s significant rise in costs is the result of high energy prices, inflation and interest rates, while the increased expense of providing for an ageing population and growing number of school pupils with Additional Learning Needs is also a contributing factor.
Demand for social care among both adults and children has grown, with greater need for homelessness accommodation also affecting matters.
Welsh Government has indicated that Local Authority funding is set to increase by three per cent next year and one per cent after that.
This is well below the current rate of inflation as is an illustrative Council Tax increase of 4.9 per cent used in the report.
Budget proposals will be considered by Cabinet and Scrutiny Committees in due course and undergo a public consultation before being finalised at a meeting of all Councillors in March.