Posted: Mon 8th Feb 2016

Cabinet to consider budget proposals /
This article is old - Published: Monday, Feb 8th, 2016

Multi-million pound proposals which aim to support vital services and see Swansea Council transformed in the years ahead are to go to Cabinet on February 15. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Proposals which took account of public consultation and were aimed at securing £21m of savings in the coming financial year are being considered prior to going to full council later this month. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said the council is focussing on the priorities of the people of Swansea and is determined to deliver the best possible services over the coming years. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He said: “Apart from the £21m of savings in the coming year there will be another £55m of savings to be made over the following three years and this figure may well increase. We have been making good progress in delivering on our savings targets and our proposals are giving relative prioritisation to education and social care which is what our residents want.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr Stewart said the Council’s savings target had changed due to a better-than-expected settlement from the Welsh Government, but demand for services and other budget pressures mean that, like other councils in Wales, Swansea still faces significant funding pressures. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

According to a report going to Cabinet on February 15, the council is expecting a reduction in funding from Welsh Government of around £2m for the next financial year. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

However, it warns that there are significant pressures on budgets, particularly in demand for social care, and additional budget pressures are likely to emerge because of anticipated announcements by the Welsh Government of reductions in grant funding. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Other key points in the budget report include: ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

  • A requirement to find an extra £21m of savings on top of £50m achieved in the last two years.
  • An anticipated reduction in the education budget of 0.62%, much less than originally anticipated.
  • The council will still be spending around £1.5m a day in key services across all revenue and capital budgets
  • Public consultation said 82% of residents want the council to deliver services in a different way rather than lose them while 59%
  • would be prepared to pay more for services rather than lose them.
  • Public support for most of the council’s proposals for transforming cultural services.

Cllr Stewart said the Cabinet’s decision to continue to prioritise education and social care over all other services meant that budget reductions in those areas would not be as great as among other services ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr Stewart said: “We’ve listened to what residents, stakeholders and our staff have said and between now and the Cabinet meeting we’ll look at how we can take further account of people’s views in the decision we make. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Our proposals have been made stronger from the consultation process and we plan to continue the conversation we have started with residents about how we achieve a sustainable Swansea.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr Stewart said “Our Sustainable Swansea – fit for the future initiative has been widely welcomed because it will help us continue to support vital services by becoming smarter and more efficient. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Despite the budget reductions all Councils in Wales are facing, Swansea is in a good position to continue supporting children, older people, tackling poverty and invest in intervention and prevention services which will help save money in the long term.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The report to Cabinet is asking it to consider its final decisions over savings proposals in light of the consultation responses received, to agree recommendations on the use of reserves and balances and take some further steps to balance the remaining budget gap set out in the report, including proposals around levels of Council Tax to be set for the year. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

As part of the Sustainable Swansea initiative the Council is also taking an innovative approach to protecting staff jobs and preventing compulsory redundancies as much as possible. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Budget proposals include action to reduce the number of potential redundancies by retraining and redeployment, stopping the use of agency staff wherever possible and greater use of fixed term appointments. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr Stewart said: “The Council is doing everything it can to protect jobs and services. In the past our focus has been on reducing management costs to protect the front line and we will continue to do that.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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