Posted: Fri 23rd Feb 2024

Bridgend Council reveals final budget proposal for 2024-25 financial year

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Friday, Feb 23rd, 2024

Bridgend Council has published a final budget proposal for the 2024-25 financial year.
Cabinet members discussed the proposals from its medium term financial strategy for the last time at a cabinet meeting on February 20, before it goes for a final decision at full council on February 28.
The latest version of the plans were finalised after feedback from residents during a public consultation where more than 2,800 people gave their thoughts, as well as intense scrutiny from opposition members.
The budget, which the county borough will use to provide its services during 2024-25, stands at a total of  £359.7 million, however a council report said this was including pressures of £30.4 million as well as reductions of just over £13 million.
The overall budget will include funding of £105 million for the social services and wellbeing directorate, £30 million for communities,  £22 million for chief executives/administration, as well as  £113 million for schools.
One of the main changes that had been made to the final budget proposals, included a reduction of 3% to the schools budget for 2024-25,  instead of 5% that was originally proposed, leading headteachers across the borough to label the move as “unsustainable.”
Proposals to close Bridgend bus station have also been removed from the papers, along with cuts to funding for street cleaning, and the closure of recycling centres for an additional day on the weekend.
However, a council tax increase of 9.5% still remains on the table, with officers citing “unprecedented financial pressures,” as well as increased demands for services and real term funding from the Welsh Government remaining below the cost of inflation, as some of the reasons.
Other proposed cuts, such as the merging or closing of smaller schools, and the  withdrawal of meals on wheels, have also been scrapped or pushed back to later years.
Speaking at the meeting, council leader Huw David said: “We continue to face significant pressures, particularly across social services where there is a projected overspend of £12.5m. In order to meet our legal obligation of balancing the budget, a reluctant council tax increase of 9.5 per cent remains necessary, but I want to emphasise that this is where things like the £113m for schools, £105m for social services and £30m for education services will be coming from.
“In addition to feedback from public consultation, we have also taken on board as many cross-party scrutiny recommendations as possible in an effort to make the 2024-25 budget as representative as possible. Providing public services after more than a full decade of reduced funding and resources is no
easy task, and I would like to thank everyone who played a part in this incredibly complicated process.”
Councillor Hywel Williams, who is cabinet member for resources, added: “Across the UK, councils have spent more than a decade successfully providing more than 800 different types of service while coping with increasingly reduced resources, austerity measures, the need to make year-upon-year savings, and the impact of events such as Brexit, the global pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis.
“You only have to look at daily news headlines to know that this is a national crisis, not a local one. Throughout it all, Bridgend County Borough Council has done everything in its power to protect local residents from feeling the full impact of these cuts, and has remained consistently ambitious for the area
and the people we serve and represent.
“However, we have finally reached a point where ‘soft’ options have been exhausted, and we can no longer shield people from experiencing the effects of some of these cuts. Local government is facing unprecedented dangers as a whole, and Bridgend County Borough Council is not immune.”
Councillors will now meet to discuss and approve the final budget for Bridgend for the 2024-25 financial year at full council meeting on February 28. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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