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Cardiff Reveals a £25m Budget Gap for Next Year

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Cardiff Council will have to bridge a budget gap of £25m next year and £101m over the next four years a new report into the authority’s finances has revealed.

The report also reveals that the council has already made £220m in savings and lost more than 1,600 full time posts over the past 10 years.

Cabinet member for Finance Modernisation and Performance, Cllr Chris Weaver, said:

“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. With a £101m budget gap projected over the next four years any notion that austerity is over is clearly unfounded.”

The administration proposes to bridge the £25m budget gap by:

  • Making efficiency savings and growing income – £18.5m;
  • Implementing a Council tax rise of 4.5% (raising £6.5m).

Cllr Weaver, said:

“We are asking all service areas to review their budgets to deliver £10.3m in efficiency savings. Then we will need to make up a further £8m through income generation and changing the way we deliver services. A proposed Council Tax rise of 4.5% would bring in £6.5m to balance the books.”

The council’s current 2019/20 budget (£624m) is divided between five areas:

  • Schools – £241m
  • Social Services – £171m
  • All other services (including highways, waste, parks etc) – £109m
  • Non-controllable (Fire service levy and Council Tax Support) – £53m
  • Capital financing (required to improve or acquire assets) – £50m.

Cllr Weaver said:

“There’s little doubt that year after year of significant cuts is making it harder for this council to make the required savings. Cardiff is a growing city and a growing city means growing demand for our services. So more social care, more school places, more housing needs, more waste to collect, more potholes and roads to fix.

“For years now we’ve been cutting into our ‘other services’ budget hard to protect schools and social services as much as we can. More than 1,600 jobs have gone from our back-office, from parks, street cleansing and the outsourcing of our leisure centres as we’ve set about transforming the way we do business. But if you look at the way our budget is allocated you can see that if we continue to cut in this area alone – then in four-year’s time there won’t be any money left for our highways or parks or waste collection. Cleary that’s not sustainable.

“This is why we have to continue to raise council tax rates and why this year we will be looking to our schools to keep a tight rein on their budgets and deliver efficiency savings of 1% to help meet the budget gap.

“Cardiff schools will get an extra £4.6m next year to help with growth, but we have reached a point where we need schools to look at their budgets carefully to ensure they are getting value for money in everything that they do.

“We are proud of the turnaround we have led in Cardiff’s schools – which are now producing some of the best results in the country, and we are committed to the Band B programme which will see a raft of new schools and school buildings open over the next few years.  We will also work closely with our schools to help them manage their budgets as effectively as possible.”

In the autumn there will be a detailed consultation with the public on the budget proposals which will focus on income and transformational change projects.