New schools, better roads, a new re-use/recycling centre and a multi-million pound investment in cycling infrastructure are just some of the proposals put forward in Cardiff Council’s budget for 2018/19.
The Council’s Cabinet will consider the proposals at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, February 15, before sending them forward to Full Council for approval the following Thursday.
Cabinet Member for Finance, Modernisation and Performance, Cllr Chris Weaver, said:
“We’ve listened to the views of residents and tried to create a Budget which delivers for the people of Cardiff and we’ve done this in the face of years of unprecedented cuts to local government budgets.
“Anyone who has been following the news will know that councils across the UK are struggling to make ends meet and Council Tax rates are having to rise to compensate. Cardiff is no different, but, we are ambitious for our capital city. We want Cardiff to be a great place to live and a great place to do business and we are setting out a programme which we believe will deliver for our residents.
“We are going to improve the city’s schools, the city’s roads and transport infrastructure, the city’s leisure and housing offerings and we are going to help create jobs so that everyone can share in the benefits we want to bring to our city.”
The ambitious plans for Cardiff were announced in the Council Budget Report for 2018/19 which also revealed that Council Tax could be set at 5% as the authority looks to bridge a £25m budget gap.
Cllr Weaver said:
“While we are as ambitious as the people of Cardiff are for the city there is a need to recognize that austerity hasn’t gone away. Moving forward we are facing a potential budget gap of £91m over the next three years. So the decisions we make are getting harder and harder and we will be forced to face serious choices about some services in the future. Balancing our ambitions for the city and the need to continue to cut budgets is a delicate act and we need residents to understand that.”
There are four things the Council can do to address the budget gap:
- Increase Council Tax;
- Use reserves;
- Cap schools budget growth;
- Make savings.
The Budget, which will go before Cabinet, will bridge the gap by the following means:
- Schools Cap of £2.2m
- Using earmarked reserves of £2.3m
- Savings and income generation of £14.3m
- Council Tax increase of 5% realizing £6.4m
Cllr Weaver said:
“We thought long and hard about raising Council Tax to 5%, but our budget consultation showed us that people wanted more done to improve the fabric of our schools and our roads and that they wanted to see the city take strides forward.
“This Council Tax rise will play its part in helping us to do that. It equates to £1.05 a week on a Band D property and will bring in an extra £6.4m, money we need if we are to deliver on our ambitious plans for the city and protect the core services we all rely on.
“Cardiff Council has had to make £200m of savings in the past 10 years, with £145m of those savings coming in the past five years alone. Each year it gets harder and harder. We have kept our commitment to keep libraries open, provided £7m extra cash for schools, and set a budget that invests in Cardiff’s future.
“We will continue to modernise the way we work to ensure we deliver the best possible service we can for taxpayers, but we also need to be upfront with residents. Austerity has not ended. If we are to continue to deliver the services the city’s residents want and continue to make Cardiff an even better place to live then we have to find ways to raise the funds to make that happen in the face of shrinking budgets and increasing demands as our population grows.”
The Council’s total current budget stands at £587m, but almost 65% of this (£378m) is currently spent on schools and social services. Both areas are facing rising demand pressures as the city’s population grows.
Cllr Weaver said:
“Each 1% increase in Council Tax raises about £1.3 million, and we have a £25m shortfall this year, so Council Tax alone doesn’t cover the gap. We have to find savings and generate income in a range of different ways to set this budget, but it’s a budget we believe will deliver for the city and its residents.”