Posted: Wed 21st Feb 2024

Gwent Council Struggles to Generate Income, Residents Face Tax Hike /
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Feb 21st, 2024

A GWENT council needs to make more money so that the financial burden doesn’t fall on its cash-strapped residents a councillor has said.
On Monday, February 19, at a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Corporate and Performance Scrutiny Committee, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Councillors had a first look at the draft budget proposals for 2024/2025
This follows a public consultation on proposals during January, which finished on February 8.
Councillors were told that council tax needs to rise by five per cent and that a minimum of £6.27 million worth of efficiencies and cuts are needed to plug a funding gap.
Deputy Independent group leader Cllr Wayne Hodgins wanted to look back on some of the money making schemes the council had put forward a year ago for the 2023/2024 budget and find out if they had made the expected financial gains.
Cllr Hodgins said: “I’m going to run through them and if someone can say if we’ve achieved them or for whatever reason explain why we haven’t.”
The first one was to make £100,000 from the “housing growth strategy.”
Resources chief officer, Rhian Hayden said it had been achieved and chief accountant Gina Taylor added that it had “exceeded” the target.
The second income generation scheme Cllr Hodgins asked about was for making £100,000 from renting industrial units.
Ms Hayden said: “Yes and I believe that exceeded the target as well.”
The third scheme was to make £64,000 from trade waste income.
Officers said they would have to “get back” to Cllr Hodgins with information on that income target.
Cllr Hodgins brought up a fourth proposal and said: “Room hire at the General Office was £60,000, taking that the NHS have had it, how much have we achieved.”
Ms Taylor said the council would achieve around £46,000 of that income.
“But that may be covered by the end of the year (March 31) as the figures are as at December,” said Ms Taylor.
The last monet making scheme on Cllr Hodgins list was to build a wind turbine at the Silent Valley site in Cwmm which was predicted to provide £17,000.
Ms Hayden said: “That has not been achieved as we’re still going through the planning process and looking to further develop that proposal.”
Cllr Hodgins said that these ideas are cumulatively worth around £300,000.
With each percentage point of council tax worth £380,000 the income generation schemes would have made around three quarters of that one per cent.
Cllr Hodgins said: “It does worry me.
“We can’t keep relying on income from the general public in fees and charges and the council tax.
“I’d like to think we can focus a bit more on our commercial strategy.”
Commercial and customer chief officer Bernadette Elias said that a review of the council’s current commercial strategy is taking place and councillors would be able to scrutinise it soon.
Ms Hayden said:  “We’re not forgetting those commercial opportunities and we are progressing them, but they take time to come through.
“They are at the forefront of our minds, and we are progressing them as quickly as we can.”
Committee agreed that the draft budget moves on to be debated by Cabinet members on Wednesday, before being finalised at a full council meeting on Tuesday, February 27. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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