Posted: Fri 21st Jul 2023

Cabinet members clarify that Blaenau Gwent Council’s surplus is not new money, but rather reserves. Budget position improves by £1.2 million. /
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jul 21st, 2023

CABINET members on Blaenau Gwent Council have stressed that last year’s final budget position of a cumulative £1.2 million surplus is “not new” money, but rather cash held in reserves.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Cabinet councillors received a report detailing the final position of the 2022/2023 council budget.
Grant funding came to the council, which changed the budget picture during the last few months of 2022/2023.
The council’s budget ended with with a surplus of £180,000 which rose to £1.2 million after money from various council budgets and reserves were moved around.
The budget position improved significantly from what the council was predicting back at the end of quarter three in December – at that point it was forecast that the council would end up £1.57 million over its £169.19 million budget.
Deputy council leader, Cllr Helen Cunningham said: “With the overall picture there is a favourable variance of £1.2 million.
“I just wanted to clarify, that’s technically reserves that we thought we were going to use but we didn’t need to.
“It’s not new money in any sense, it’s money that we need to keep in reserves.”
Council leader Cllr Steve Thomas said that he was “glad” this had been raised as in some quarters it had been mentioned that this was new money.
Cllr Thomas said: “We have to understand when this budget was set in February 2022, there was a good funding situation.
“But we had a spring, summer and autumn of (financial) terror.
“Interest rates rising massively, energy costs and the costs of living going up, put us in a bad position.
“Everyone has done really well to bring in this budget with £180,000 and not the £1.2 million.
“The last thing we want to be doing is relying on reserves to say we’ve gained something, because it’s not a bounty.”
Social Services portfolio holder, Cllr Haydn Trollope pointed out that the £1.122 million overspend in Children’s Social Services was: “due to the cost of living crisis” impacting on the cost of residential places for children in care.
Cllr Trollope said: “Everybody put their prices up, it’s so good that we’ve established a children’s home because that will cut our costs dramatically.
He believed that the pressures on Social Services won’t be” going away” in the short term especially as the Welsh Government want to stop the element of profit form looking after children in care.
Cllr Thomas said: “You’re quite correct as it’s an ever growing pressure right across the country.”
Councillors noted the report.
The council’s losses or “adverse variances” in 2022/2023 include: ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Council Tax Collection – £225,500;
Children’s Social Services – £1.122 million;
Waste Services – £566,000;
Winter (road) Maintenance – £155,000. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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