Council budget for 2019/20 approved
Posted on : 22 Feb 2019
Council budget for 2019/20 approved
Councillors have approved Caerphilly County Borough Council’s budget for the forthcoming year (2019/2020) – which included reconsidering a number of savings proposals following feedback from residents.
The budget report included a savings requirement of almost £14 million for 2019/20. A series of proposals totalling £14.6 million were subject to a period of public consultation over recent months, with a slightly better than expected settlement outcome from Welsh Government allowing some flexibility to re-consider some of the savings proposals.
Deputy Leader, Cllr Barbara Jones said, “These really are difficult times, but we continue to do our best to meet the needs and aspirations of our communities, despite the huge financial challenges we face. Fortunately, thanks to the slightly better than anticipated final budget from Welsh Government, we had some flexibility to reconsider some of the savings on the list for the time being, and respond to the feedback from our residents.
“We have clearly demonstrated that this council is prepared to listen and respond in a positive manner to the views of the local community, and I’m sure the fact that we’ve reconsidered a number of the proposals will be welcomed by all concerned”.
The proposed savings that will now be deferred include:
Withdrawal of the CCBC Community Safety Warden service – there will now be a reduction of the team from 9 to 6 wardens
Reduction of the ‘Meals on Wheels’ service (Meals Direct) – to be considered as part of a wider review of the council’s Catering Service.
Closure of 2 household recycling centres - deferred pending the conclusion of a comprehensive waste review
Introduction of rat treatment charges - deferred
Community Centre budget cuts and closures - deferred for a year to allow a period of 12 month notice upon which funding will be withdrawn.
Withdrawal of funding for community schemes such as Bargoed Ice Rink and Senghenydd Splash Pad - deferred for a year to allow a period of 12 month notice upon which funding will be withdrawn.
Cllr Dave Poole, Leader of the Council added, “It’s clear from some of the feedback we received that our residents felt that some of the proposals were unpalatable –as did my Cabinet colleagues and I. Certainly, none of us went into politics or public service to see services cut. We’ve listened, we’ve responded and for the time being, have been able to take a number of these savings off the table”.
As part of the budget setting, a 6.95% council tax increase for 2019/2020 was also reluctantly approved.
Cllr Barbara Jones continued, “We reluctantly agreed the proposed 6.95% council tax increase for 2019/20, which equates to a £1.41 a week increase in council tax payments based on a Band D property. None of us wanted to do this, but the sad truth is, we’re faced with the dilemma of either asking residents to pay a little more or make deeper cuts to frontline services.
“Interestingly, for 2018/19 Caerphilly had the third lowest council tax bill in Wales for a Band D property, and even with this rise, Caerphilly residents will still pay among the lowest in Wales. The feedback from our budget consultation also showed that while any increase is unpopular, there is a general understanding and acceptance that we need to make these difficult decisions in order to protect services”.
As part of the budget setting, councillors also approved the allocation of £5 million council reserves towards 21st Century Schools match funding and £1.2 million for a number of exciting regeneration proposals to boost prosperity across the county borough. They also endorsed an ambitious £14.5 million capital programme for 2019/20 which will deliver a range of benefits to communities across the area.
Cllr Barbara Jones added, “Unfortunately, there are many more difficult and unpopular decisions yet to come over the coming years, but we must – and will – rise to the challenge. We will continue to do all we can to protect our frontline services, protect our communities and meet the needs and aspirations of our residents”.
The full budget report can be found: https://democracy.caerphilly.gov.uk/documents/s27695/Budget%20Proposals.pdf?LLL=0