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Cabinet to discuss extra £8.8m

The Cabinet of Bridgend County Borough Council is set to consider budget proposals for 2020-21 which could see an additional £8.8m invested in schools, highway maintenance, street cleansing, services for children who have additional learning needs and more.

Thanks to a higher than expected settlement figure from Welsh Government, the proposals also incorporate a council tax increase which has been significantly reduced from 6.5 per cent down to 4.5 per cent.

A report which is due to be discussed at Cabinet on Tuesday 14 January outlines how the Welsh Government settlement increase for Bridgend represents an additional £8.8m, leaving the council with a budget shortfall of £2.4m to cover for the year.

This means that while the council still faces having to make cuts to services, some of the planned reductions for 2020-21 will no longer be necessary, can be amended or deferred depending on the outcome of future settlements.

The most significant of these proposals - a planned one per cent cut in school funding – is being withdrawn, and schools will also receive an additional £4m to help them deal with budget pressures such as having to fund additional learning needs, increased pupil numbers, teacher pay and pension awards and more.

Other proposals which are being withdrawn or amended include the planned removal of adult community learning, a community recycling centre and the CCTV service, and planned reductions in funding for street cleaning, highways, pop-up business schools and more.

As the settlement from Welsh Government has been better than expected, we have been able to revisit the results of the extensive public consultation carried out last year, and have revamped our budget proposals to reflect people’s views as much as possible.

Council tax currently funds around 30 per cent of our services, and it remains an important source of funding. The consultation revealed that 64 per cent of people would be prepared to pay an additional 6.5 per cent council tax, so at 4.5 per cent, the settlement has helped us to strike a balance between a fair increase and the ongoing protection of essential services.

However, the funding position beyond 2021 is far less certain. Austerity is not over, and difficult decisions will still have to be made to safeguard our services for the future.Never the less, this settlement has helped us to ensure that our budget strategy remains fit for the future, and is capable of meeting all further challenges.

Deputy Leader Hywel Williams

Council Leader Huw David added: “We are very grateful to Welsh Government for listening to our concerns about the huge pressures faced by front-line services such as schools and social services.

“I am particularly pleased that the settlement has enabled us to develop proposals which seek to protect key services, such as the £4m uplift in funding for all schools and support for children with additional educational needs.

“These proposals, which are available to view on the council’s website, will be carefully considered by Cabinet before being reviewed in-depth by all overview and scrutiny committee councillors, and then a final version will be reported to full Council next month.”

Look out for more details soon.

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