On 5th June Monmouthshire County Council’s Cabinet is considering a report on the Council’s financial performance for the financial year 2018/2019. The report highlights a budget underspend of £49k on a net expenditure budget of £139.6 million (excluding precepts and levies collected on others behalf).

The report flags a number of areas of spend where significant pressure continues to show. These areas are mainly the continuing growth in numbers of children being looked after by the Council, funding additional learning needs for children in Monmouthshire schools and increases in costs to provide free home to school transport for pupils. These three areas alone saw cost increases of £2.436 million during the year which have been managed by achieving savings across other areas of the Council.

Over and above this a small number of schools are reporting significant year end deficit positions that Governing Body’s will have to address this year.

Councillor Phil Murphy, Cabinet Member for Resources said “everybody realises how difficult it is to manage public finances in the U.K. right now and in England we are starting to see Councils fall over. I am pleased that yet again we have managed to deliver our agenda within budget but the public should be under no illusion that this is hard to do. We are not making easy choices and the outlook for the next few years is challenging unless Welsh Government decide that local government in this country matters to them and that rural counties start to get a level of financial support commensurate with delivering services in large sparsely populated areas.”

Councillor Peter Fox, Leader of the Council added “it cannot be right that some Councils in Wales have in excess of £100 million of unallocated reserves and continue to get disproportionate levels of grants from Wales Government on top of an overly generous annual settlement whilst we watch every single penny. It’s time to sort this out and Assembly Members and the Welsh Local Government Association need to rise to this challenge. In the meantime we will continue to run one of the most efficient, effective, high performing Councils in Wales working with and for all citizens of Monmouthshire.”