This year’s draft budget proposals have been set after an unprecedented year that has brought with it unavoidable pressures, most notably including the pandemic and repeated flooding incidents. Whilst the council presses the Welsh Government to continue its full funding of COVID related costs and income losses through this year and next, the council is facing £10.1m of unavoidable service pressures that continue to bear heavily on the council’s finances. These service pressures continue to result from increased demands in supporting looked after children, vulnerable adults and children with additional learning needs. In accommodating these pressures this demonstrates the continued investment the Council is making in frontline services and in line with its priorities.
The draft budget proposals aim to continue to support the priorities of the Council, set out in both the Corporate Plan and our Winter Coronavirus Plan. Following several years of making significant savings, the means of achieving further savings has become increasingly more challenging. This situation has been exacerbated by the pandemic and the serious flooding incidents, which have required emergency response and the need to ensure vital services are delivered effectively in difficult circumstances. We have been careful and thoughtful in putting together a funding package that seeks to minimise and in most cases prevent any impact on key services areas.
Welsh Government has acknowledged the challenges faced by local authorities in Wales and the Council has received an above average increase in its settlement – 3.9%, against an average increase of 3.8% across Wales. However, Monmouthshire still receives the least funding per head of population (£1,067) compared to the rest of Wales (average £1,471).
The Council is proposing to make use of its limited reserves to support the budget, and proposing a package of savings of £3.7m, and which includes decisions made already over the course of the past year. These include the garden green waste service, the introduction of reusable recycling bags and changes to our household waste recycling centres. Savings also result from the previously announced closure of Mounton House school. The closure of this building will not result in a withdrawal of service as alternative provision has been provided to former Monmouthshire pupils alongside a significant investment in our in-county provision for children with additional learning needs and behaviour difficulties and that looks for children to be supported in mainstream schools where possible. Previous years’ budgets have seen frontline services having to deliver significant savings, however this is not the case this year for the aforementioned reasons.
The Council is more reliant on council tax than any other council in Wales for its core funding and whilst the significant pressures have been offset in part by the Welsh Government settlement and one-off use of reserves and capital receipts it is still needing to propose an increase in council tax of 4.95% for the 2021-2022 financial year. The council tax reduction scheme will offer mitigation for those on low incomes and those in receipt of benefits. Single person households are also eligible for a 25% reduction on council tax. We have limited any increases to fees and charges where possible but inflationary increases in charges for domiciliary and residential care are also means tested and capped to again mitigate the impact of those on the lowest incomes.
For a comprehensive list of proposals click on the links below:
BUDGET ENGAGEMENT – share your feedback
The draft budget consultation closes on 17th February 2021. Please share your feedback on the proposals via this form *PLEASE NOTE THIS FORM IS NOW CLOSED
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic the council’s traditional face-to-face engagement sessions are not possible this year.