Council budget is agreed for 2017-18
02 March 2017
Bridgend County Borough Council has approved its Corporate Plan and Medium Term Financial Strategy for the 2017-2021 period.
A net budget for 2017-18 of £258m and a capital investment programme of £63.85m have been agreed alongside budget reductions of £5.85m and a council tax increase of 2.9 per cent - the equivalent of an extra 72 pence a week on a Band D property.
Designed to ensure that the council can set a balanced budget, manage pressures and protect essential services as much as possible, the 2017-18 budget includes £32.4 for capital investments in services related to education and support for families.
These include establishing new primary schools in Pencoed, Brynmenyn and for Bettws and Ysgol Cwm Garw, and providing modifications at a range of different schools that will help pupils with specific medical needs.
More than £27m will be invested during 2017-18 in initiatives such as establishing a large new recycling centre at Pyle, improving Porthcawl’s flood defences and clearing derelict land for potential development in the Llynfi Valley.
This money will also be used for services such as continuing to provide disabled facility grants, looking after and maintaining the highways network, strengthening bridges, replacing street lighting columns and more.
A further £3m will be invested in creating two all-new ‘Extra Care’ facilities for people who are older or vulnerable. The modernisation programme for the Homecare service will continue, and the caretaker’s lodge at Heronsbridge will be adapted alongside Heron House to increase the range and availability of services for children with disabilities.
The 2017-18 budget will also see the creation of an all-new funding programme that will give councillors up to £5,000 funding each for carrying out specific improvement work within the wards that they represent.
Believed to be the first of its kind in Wales, the scheme allows neighbouring wards to pool funding, and town and community councils will be able to get involved in identifying where the money can be spent for the benefit of the local community.
Savings have been identified through a range of different measures. These include reducing the amount of funding for the parking enforcement budget, using a new anaerobic food waste digester, transferring the management of community centres, reducing looked-after children due to early intervention and developing a greater focus upon personalised, home-based care services.
Other measures for achieving savings include delivering cultural services via the Awen Trust, moving specific council tax and benefit services online, reviewing council departments and reducing the number of corporate directors.
Schools have been asked to deliver a one per cent efficiency saving for the first time, but have also been provided with additional funding to help them meet the cost of nationally agreed pay awards.
Council Leader Huw David said: “Before setting the Medium Term Financial Strategy, the council undertook a major public consultation exercise. This drew the highest percentage response from residents for any council in Wales and saw majority support for 14 out of 15 budget reduction proposals, so I’d like to thank everyone who took part in this.
“We have incorporated these views and opinions into our decision making, and have strived to set a budget that protects frontline services while also achieving the very necessary savings that all councils now have to find.
“To date, we have been able to deliver more than half of all savings from internal efficiencies and through things like increased partnership working, and we are continuing to do so through measures such as internal reviews or reducing the number of corporate director posts.
“But everyone needs to be absolutely realistic and accept that services will be affected right across the board for as long as local authorities continue to receive reduced funding. Bridgend is certainly not immune from this, and we estimate that a further £32.8m will need to be saved between now and 2021.
“Even in the face of these ongoing challenges, we have continued to deliver major investments, and our budget for the year ahead will enable us to continue to do so.”
Deputy Leader Hywel Williams added: “This budget takes an extremely realistic view of the situation that we have to work with, and delivers a sensible mix of new investment and savings alongside essential services.
“We provide these services for 142,000 residents, including 20,000 school pupils and approximately 5,000 adults and children who require specific care and support.
“While the impact of reduced UK funding for local authority services must not be underestimated, we remain committed towards providing high quality services to local people and protecting the most vulnerable members of the community.
“I believe that this budget achieves this, and enables us to fully deliver on this commitment.”