Latest Budget News
On 11th March 2021, Monmouthshire County Council set a budget for the forthcoming financial year. Never an easy process. The year ahead will be our most challenging as we work with communities to steer a way forward in the aftermath of a year of great tragedy. The Council will prioritise its spending on issues which will help people live their lives in the way they choose. We will protect services for the most vulnerable, ensure schools are well placed to support their learners as they return to school and ensure that the increasing demand in adult social care and children’s services can be met. The budget recommits the council to an agenda focussed on reducing inequality within and between our communities. As we exit the current stages of the pandemic we will stay vigilant and be ready to respond should circumstances take a turn for the worse.
Following feedback from residents on initial proposals published on 20th January 2021, gathered over the full consultation period, the council has amended its proposals and those have been confirmed today.
Councillor Phil Murphy, Cabinet Member for Resources said: “I would like to thank every resident who has shared their feedback with us. We have listened to you. The subsequent changes to the budget are based on what you’ve told us matters to you. In particular, concerns that that the proposed 4.95% rise in council tax could impact upon those most financially disadvantaged by the COVID-19 pandemic and by the lockdown periods that have accompanied it. As a result, I can confirm that the coming year’s council tax increase will reduce to 3.89%. Our approach continues to be to change, improve and adapt our services rather than to close them down. This budget shows ambition for the county in the face of the most challenging of times.”
Some of the major investments agreed by council today are:
- To protect schools by fully funding all pay and pension increases
- To recognise social care pressures; primarily around our ageing population, adults with disabilities and an increasing number of looked-after children
- To recognise demand-led pressures with children with additional learning needs
- To honour all national pay awards and continue its position to set a minimum wage in line with the Living Wage set by the Living Wage Foundation, and that also applies to apprenticeship roles within the council.
- To increase investment into flood alleviation schemes over next year and the medium term.
- The creation of a £1m capital funding to support grant applications that require a council contribution, most notably in relation to significant Active Travel bids that have recently submitted to Welsh Government
- To spend an additional £0.8 million on highways maintenance schemes.
- To continue work on a new 3-18 school in Abergavenny.
- To deliver a replacement for Severn View residential home.
- To push on with feasibility works on new transport infrastructure in and around Chepstow.
- To continue with plans to regenerate the centre of Caldicot.
Councillor Murphy continued: “A range of service changes and cost reductions have already taken place in the current financial year, including the closure of Mounton House School, albeit with the services being continued elsewhere, the closure of Usk Household Waste and Recycling Centre and an increase in charges for garden waste collection.”
Monmouthshire County Council Leader, Peter Fox said: “The final settlement from Welsh Government is better than we initially feared, but does not fully compensate for the significant service pressures the council is continuing to face. The medium term outlook is uncertain and we look to Welsh Government to continue to provide specific financial support to meet extraordinary costs associated with responding to the COVID pandemic and extending this support towards supporting and building fairer communities and businesses. Local government has a vital role to play in this effort and Monmouthshire County Council will rise to this challenge.
“Once again we are in the position of being the lowest funded council in Wales by a country mile. The current Welsh system of sharing out money is just unfair and discriminates against Monmouthshire residents. We continue to deliver some of the best services in Wales but are having to deliver them on a shoestring. This is not a sustainable way forward for rural, geographically large counties like ours and we will not give up in our call for Wales Government to review how they share out the money.
“Significant uncertainties remain and we call on Welsh Government to provide clarity on our funding going forward into 2022/23 and beyond. Local government should not be seen as the poor partner in the wider public sector family. It plays a vital role alongside the NHS in Wales, keeping people safe through these most testing of times. We ask nothing more than this to be recognised,” said Cllr. Fox.
News: 20th January 2021
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.