Monmouthshire’s cabinet agreed a proposed budget at its meeting on Wednesday, 12th February that protects front line services, education spending, increases social services spending and meets a £9 million cut in Welsh Government funding. The 2014-15 budget will now go to full council for a decision on 27th February. The budget recommends a rise in council tax of 3.95% and ensures that all front line services can continue, although some would be subject to charges for the first time.
Councillor Phil Murphy, the council’s cabinet member for finance, said: “We all know that Britain’s public finances are in their worse state since the end of World War II. But while others are spending time arguing about why this is the case and whose fault it is, we have chosen to spend our time responding to the challenge with purpose and in line with our stated priorities. Our priority has been to see continued investment in things that matter to the people of Monmouthshire. That is why we are recommending a budget which safeguards our:
- vulnerable people – young and old
- youth service
- leisure centres
- adult learning programmes
“Unlike most other councils, we are not closing things. We are working hard to keep services open and maintain the things that make our county special. This does come at a cost and we are asking people to pay a little more council tax (76p a week for a Band D household). We are matching this by reducing the reserves that we hold as a council – this seems fair to us and we still expect our services to improve. Our major commitment to start building new secondary schools, the first in Caldicot and the second in Monmouth, remains”.
Cllr Murphy added: “We are not just building a budget for one year – we have done the outline work for the next four, because we need to think into the medium term. The attitude and engagement of the people of Monmouthshire in this process over the last six months has been inspiring – you have told us about what matters to you and we have built our budget around this. We are determined to continue adopting innovative approaches to maintaining as many services as we can. But I know that some of what we propose to do – especially around street lighting and litter picking – will be more visible to people in their day to day lives than the significant back office savings that we’ve already made.”