Supporting the homeless, more neighbourhood deep cleans, better roads, and maintaining bus routes in the city are just some of the proposals being put forward in Cardiff Council’s budget for 2019/20.
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 despite the continued cuts we face. This coming year we will have to bridge a £32.4m gap in our budget which comes on top of £218m in cuts over the past 10 years.
“Balancing the books while maintaining the services our residents want is getting harder each year, but we are ambitious for Cardiff and we want our city to be a great place to live and to do business in. 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 every penny we bring in will be used to deliver the services that matter most to residents.”
More than 2,000 residents took part in the budget consultation which sought views on everything from reducing events subsidies to increasing walking routes to schools.
The Council’s Cabinet will consider the proposals at its next meeting on Thursday, February 21. If agreed the proposals will then go forward to Full Council, on February 28, for approval.
The administration proposes to bridge the £32.4m budget gap by:
- Finding savings of £19m across council directorates;
- Using £2.75m of reserves;
- Implementing a Council tax rise of 4.9% (raising £6.7m)
- Capping schools growth by £3.5m (Schools will receive an extra 4.5% this year or £10.4m in cash)
Cllr Weaver, added:
“Raising Council Tax by 4.9% will cost a Band D property an extra £1.09 a week and will go a little way to help us bridge the £32.4m gap. It will enable us to continue to deliver the services our residents want, including cleaner neighbourhoods, tackling homelessness and rough sleeping and protecting school budgets.
“Of course the majority of the savings – £19m – will have to be found across the council. This will mean more changes to the work we do and to the services we offer. Unfortunately there will be some job losses too. At least 55 (Full Time Equivalent) jobs could go in the cuts either through voluntary redundancy or non-replacement of vacancies. These are never easy choices to make and this council has already lost 1,632 posts over the past seven years, but we have a committed workforce who are determined to do their best for the people of Cardiff as we work to reshape the way we deliver services in the city.
“We are also supporting schools where we have seen fantastic strides forward. Cardiff schools are now producing some of the best results in the country and we are increasing the schools’ budget by 4.5%, that’s £10.4m more than last year. We are, however, having to cap schools growth by £3.5m, which means schools will have to look at their budgets carefully to ensure they are getting value for money in everything that they do. We will work closely with them to help them manage their budgets as effectively as possible.”
The Council’s Capital Ambition agenda sets out a series of principles designed to improve the way the authority works.
- Getting the basics right;
- Delivering a digital first service;
- Putting communities front and centre;
- Joining up frontline services;
- Purposeful partnerships; and
- A new deal with citizens.
Cllr Weaver added:
“It’s absolutely correct that we maintain a relentless focus on our performance but we also need a new deal with citizens. Keeping our streets clean, reaching our sustainable transport and recycling targets and looking after our most vulnerable people cannot be achieved by the council alone. We all need to work together to tackle problems and realise our shared ambitions for Cardiff.
“However, I want people to know if our proposals are agreed we will be spending close to an extra £2m improving the street scene in the city, £850,000 on transport initiatives which will include safeguarding bus routes and creating safer walking routes to schools. We will also invest a further £300,000 on homelessness which already has approximately £2 million spent on it every year.”
As part of the budget proposals the council could also look at finding a new private tenant for the New Theatre saving £404,000 and realising a further £1.8m in savings as a result of the transfer of the majority of its leisure centres to Greenwich Leisure Ltd. The city events budget could also be reviewed saving £125,000.
Charges may also rise for some services including:
- The cost of a cremation increasing from £560 to £640;
- Cost of burials rising from £660 to £760;
- Cost of rehoming a dog going up by £30 and a puppy by £10.
Cllr Weaver said:
“In the face of the cuts and the growing demand for services this is never an easy process. But we believe we have created a budget which safeguards the services that really matter to residents and allows us to continue to deliver on our Capital Ambition agenda to create a city of real equality and opportunity, a city with more and better jobs, a city which we are determined to see thrive and prosper.”