Council facing tough budget decisions
11 December 2018
Powys County Council is facing the prospect of service cuts and job losses as it looks to set a balanced budget following another cut in funding by the Welsh Government.
Councillors will be told that the county is facing a £14m budget gap for the coming financial year following another disappointing funding round - the poorest or joint poorest in Wales in nine of the last 10 years.
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Aled Davies said; "Residents will understandably be dismayed that the council is facing another round of service cuts despite cutting its spending by £100m in that time.
"After a decade of poor budgets we are having to work increasingly hard to identify areas where savings can be made. Officers are going through the same process hunting for more ways to raise income, change the way we deliver services to make savings and unfortunately in some areas reduce or close operations.
"We have to look at everything, the buildings we occupy, back office costs and staffing. We have been streamlining services where we can to combat sustained severe cuts to our funding. But, after a decade of cuts we have reached a point where something has to give, we can no longer fund the council of the past.
"We must continue to deliver important statutory services such as education and social care. However they absorb more than 70% of our £247m annual net budget but we must realise that these services will not be immune from reductions.
"As a consequence of high level of spending on statutory services, discretionary services, which include areas such as arts, culture and libraries, which only have a partial statutory element, face the brunt of service cuts. In some parts of the UK some councils are only funding statutory services."
Budget proposals include:
- School budgets - these continue to experience financial pressures as a result of the teacher's pay award and increased superannuation costs. This will inevitably lead to further redundancies of teachers and non-teaching staff.
- Job losses - at least 50 full time equivalent jobs are expected to go as most of our costs are 'people' related
- Service reductions - Cuts in funding to planning, building control, environmental health services will reduce the capacity of services leading to delays in approvals and reduced frequency of inspections
- Highways - the state of our extensive road network will deteriorate as maintenance budgets are reduced
- Introducing or increasing charges for some public services (cemeteries, garden waste, car parking etc.)
- Reductions and withdrawal of grant funding to external organisations
- Continued disposal of council assets
"We are committed to providing services to Powys residents but continued budget cuts make our task much harder. It is inevitable that council tax will increase at a time when services are reducing," he added.