Posted: Sat 2nd Mar 2024

Councillors in Neath Port Talbot to decide on final budget for 2024-25 financial year /

Councillors in Neath Port Talbot will be asked to decide on their final budget for the 2024-25 financial year at a meeting set for early this month.
The proposals, which officers say come in the face of “unprecedented pressure on budgets and soaring demand for services” will go before members of the council on March 7.
They will discuss the final budget which a council spokesperson said came after “significant financial challenges” with the authority facing new cost pressures of approximately £30 million, while receiving only £8.6 million of additional  funding from the Welsh Government.
The final proposals include a budget of £106.458 million into the delegated schools budget, and £33.125 million into the education leisure and lifelong learning directorate.
There would also be an investment £113.699 million for the social services, housing and community safety directorate, and £46.515 million for the environment and regeneration directorate.
It is also set to include a recommended council tax increase of 7.9% to contribute to the cost of running council services, the annual payment to Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, and the subsidy to Celtic Leisure to run indoor leisure services across the borough.
The report read: ” The council has worked hard to identify £8.8 million in savings and income generation proposals. The views of more than 2,500 people were considered in relation to the budget setting process, from talking to people about what matters to them through the council’s Let’s Keep Talking engagement campaign and again from people who responded to the public consultation in the run up to setting the final budget.
“The council has listened closely to people’s views and, while the council can’t afford to do everything, several amendments to the budget proposals have been made.”
Some of these changes will include dropping proposals to end contract agreements for public access to the Neath canal, along with amendments to the idea of switching off street lights at certain times, with lights now only expected to be dimmed in the small hours.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, chief executive of Neath Port Talbot Council Karen Jones, said the budget setting process had been an incredibly difficult task for her and her team this year.
She said: “It’s been an absolutely massive effort, because we’ve asked people to look at every penny they are spending, and any opportunities to raise funds, and that’s how we’ve found £8 million worth of savings.
“We’ll be starting very early on the 2025-26 budget because we are expecting another very difficult year next year, and I think its only a question of time before the whole of local government is going to find it incredibly difficult to maintain service delivery and balance budgets.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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