Council budget is agreed for 2018-19
Bridgend County Borough Council’s budget for 2018-19 has been approved along with its Corporate Plan and Medium Term Financial Strategy for the 2018-2022 period.
Overall, the council will spend about £400m gross in 2018-19, including a net budget of £266m and a capital investment programme of £33.7m.
Budget reductions of £6.1m and a council tax increase of 4.5 per cent - the equivalent of an extra £1.16 a week on a Band D property which will account for £70m of the total budget - have also been agreed.
Designed to ensure that the council can set a balanced budget, manage pressures and protect as many essential services as possible, the 2018-19 budget includes £108m which will be spent on education and support for families, with £88m going directly to schools.
The final elements of the Band A school modernisation programme will receive £21.5m for the delivery of new primary schools in Brynmenyn, Pencoed and the Garw Valley, and a further £23m will be invested in the Band B programme which begins in 2018-19.
Alongside a £3m investment in two all-new extra care homes at Ynysawdre and Maesteg for older and vulnerable people, more than £68m has been allocated for social services and wellbeing during 2018-19 as the council continues to change the ways in which it provides help and support.
The council already spends around £4.5m of Welsh Government grant funding on public realm works, but has budgeted for an additional £19m to be invested in services such as maintaining highways, parks and open spaces, street cleansing, public transport and rights of way.
In addition, £11m will be spent on the collection and disposal of the county borough’s waste, and £1.8m will be invested in regulatory services such as trading standards, environmental health, animal health, licensing for alcohol or taxis and other services designed to keep people safe.
Capital investment will include £5m for the replacement and resurfacing of roads and pavements throughout the county borough, £2.5m on installing more efficient LED streetlights, and £1.3m for making schools and other premises energy efficient and more economical to run.
The council will invest £700,000 towards a new children’s residential care hub and a healthy living and wellbeing centre, £400,000 on road safety improvements, and £360,000 on extending cemeteries at Porthcawl and Cornelly.
The 2018-19 budget also takes into account a range of pressures which include increased statutory responsibilities, demographic changes such as an ageing population, wage costs and ongoing reductions in the overall real amount of funding the council receives from central government to provide services.
The council’s budget, financial strategy and corporate plan have all been set within the context of UK economic and public expenditure strategies, Welsh Government priorities and legislative requirements. “They have also taken account of our extensive public consultation in which the majority of residents prioritised services for older and disabled people, schools, youth services and children’s social services, and favoured investment in schools, roads and regeneration.Council Leader Huw David.
“These views and opinions have been incorporated into the budget for 2018-19, and we have once again set out to protect frontline services while delivering savings through various means.
“These include continuing to reduce senior management posts, developing online services for areas like council tax and benefits, remodelling two residential homes for children, disposing of surplus properties and assets, undertaking further community asset transfers, relocating council staff and closing down some premises, and changing the way in which our back-office services are organised.
“At the same time, we have been able to ensure that there will be a great deal of investment. Work on things like preserving the future of Maesteg Town Hall, renewed sea defences and the regeneration of Salt Lake in Porthcawl is ongoing, and we are continuing to support economic growth and prosperity through programmes such as the Valleys Taskforce and the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal.
“While the budget includes a reluctant council tax increase that equates to an extra £1.16 a week on a Band D property, we have been able to avoid problems that have seen some areas set a 10 per cent increase or cancel all investment spending entirely.
“Ultimately, this is a budget that will protect and prioritise those who are in most need, deliver major investments for Bridgend County Borough, and ensure that we will be able to meet the challenges of the year ahead.”
Deputy Leader Hywel Williams added: “Since the UK entered the age of austerity, it has become increasingly difficult for local authorities to offer many of the non-statutory services that people have commonly looked towards councils to provide.
“Despite this ongoing change, we are determined to provide high-quality essential services and ensure that we can continue to look after the most vulnerable among us.
“In addition to the budget for 2018-19, our corporate plan and medium term financial strategy set out how we will manage pressures, continue to provide essential services and make ongoing efficiencies within the council.
“We continue to recognise that there is an untapped resource of capacity, talent and ideas within the wider community, and we will be encouraging and working alongside local people to help them play a more active role as the council evolves and change its shape and scope.
“This has been one of the most challenging budgets that the council has set to date, but I believe it will ensure that we are more than capable of meeting local needs in increasingly difficult circumstances.”