Posted: Fri 4th Mar 2016

Gwynedd Council approves financial strategy

This article is old - Published: Friday, Mar 4th, 2016

At a meeting of the full Council held today (3 March 2016), Gwynedd councillors have approved the authority’s budget for 2016/17 along with a financial strategy to address the significant financial pressure the Council faces over the coming years. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The fact that the grant funding received from the government is continuing to be cut whilst the pressure on frontline services and the cost of delivering them is rising sharply means that, like most other Councils in Wales, Gwynedd Council is facing a major funding shortfall. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

To address this significant deficit, the Council has approved a strategy that aims to deliver over £14 million of additional efficiency savings over the next two years. The remaining gap will be bridged through a combination of a Council Tax increase of 3.97% and a programme of service cuts totalling £4.94 million. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The 3.97% Council Tax increase will mean that a household in the Band D Council Tax bracket with see their bill for the coming year increasing by £3.84 a month or £46.09 a year. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Gwynedd Council Leader, Councillor Dyfed Edwards said: “None of us became councillors so that we could cut public services or increase Council Tax. However the government’s austerity agenda means that local councils like Gwynedd now have no option but to resort to these unpalatable measures simply to meet our legal obligation to balance the books. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“In Gwynedd, we have been consistent in our approach to this situation by basing our strategy on protecting frontline services to the best of our ability; delivering additional savings in those areas that do not impact directly on the public and striking a balance between implementing cuts and raising income through council tax to protect services. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Where we have no option but to consider cuts, we have listened carefully to what local people told us during the recent Gwynedd Challenge consultation. As part of this exercise, over 2,700 individuals and organisations returned a consultation questionnaire or attended one of 32 local meetings whilst over a 100 organisations and individuals presented detailed evidence and feedback. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“As a result, the vast majority of the service cuts that we must now implement match the cut options that received the least support from local people in the consultation. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“In addition, a number of services have been withdrawn from the list of cuts due to their importance to a specific key sector or to a certain area of the county. Other options have been removed from the cuts list by councillors or amended, for example to protect vulnerable groups such as disabled children. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Finally, the full Council decided that a small number of cuts should not be implemented immediately to allow more time for new options to be considered to sustain some services in the future. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Throughout this extremely challenging process, we have been determined to listen to what local people and organisations have told us and where possible, to modify our proposals. I sincerely believe that this financial strategy shows that we have acted in accordance with the priorities of Gwynedd residents.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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