Monmouthshire County Council have revealed that just shy of £200 million will be available to spend on services in the coming year.
When publishing details of the budget process back in November 2023, additional cost pressures of £21.5 million were highlighted, which resulted in an initial unfunded budget gap of £14.4 million.
This gap accounted for unavoidable spending pressures such as pay awards, inflation, borrowing costs, homelessness, home to school transport and adult and children social care needs. The annual settlement from Welsh Government contributed £2.7 million. Proposals to address the remaining £18.1 million of cost pressures will be considered by Cabinet at its meeting on 17th January.
In headline terms, service changes/efficiencies are being relied on to contribute £8.5 million, increases in service charges £0.8 million, changes to how debt is managed will bring forward circa £1.8 million and a reduction in energy costs a further £1.6 million. The remaining gap of circa £5.4 million is proposed to be met by a council tax rise of 7.5%.
Cllr Ben Callard, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “This is not an easy process. The financial challenge is significant and to address it we are having to give thought to a balanced strategy involving service change, income generation and tax yield. We are clear that the services the Council provides are important. Whilst there will be changes under our proposals, many won’t notice any change to the council services. Bin collections will remain the same and leisure centres, recycling centres and hubs will all remain open. We are proposing to increase funding for health and social care by 5.8% and for education by 2.5%. We would like it to be more, but the financial reality doesn’t allow it.”
Cllr Callard went on to say: “Regrettably, we are planning to increase council tax by an average of 7.5% to cope with the huge pressures on your services. Rest assured; we will continue to fully fund the council tax reduction scheme to support those who need most help paying council tax.”
The Council will continue to work with partners and support our communities, providing advice and practical help for those worst hit by the Cost-of-Living Crisis – such as community fridges, mental health support, housing and welfare advice.
Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, Mary Ann Brocklesby, said: “Any budget setting means making choices about how the money is spent. This year, our choices are stark: our funding will not cover all the services we provide in their current form.
“Our absolute choice for the proposals we bring to you is to protect and sustain our services for now and for the future.
“We know that you expect us to be fair, to base our choices on protecting the most vulnerable and increasingly fragile environment, while always delivering the best value for money.” For more information on Monmouthshire County Council’s draft budget for 2024/25, visit monmouthshire.gov.uk/budget-2024-2025/Tags: budget, Monmouthshire