The Cabinet of Bridgend County Borough Council has agreed what its budget proposals will be for 2022-23 following a record 9.2 per cent increase in funding from Welsh Government.
With an additional £19.6m to support the medium-term financial strategy for next year, the proposals will now be placed before overview and scrutiny committees for consultation before being discussed and voted upon by full Council.
If approved, the Cabinet’s budget proposals will mean that council tax will not be increased for 2022-23, and there will be no significant cuts to frontline services.
This would mean an extra £2.5m to ensure that all care workers receive a pay rise which reflects the real living wage, and an additional £1.5m a year for local primary, secondary and special schools.
Children’s social services, safeguarding and foster care would receive an extra £1.2m a year, while an additional £650,000 a year would be directed towards supported living services aimed at people with learning disabilities.
Children with additional learning needs would receive specialist support worth an extra £465,000 a year, and mental health services would receive an extra £147,000 a year.
Last year’s £2.1m support for people who have been made homeless since the start of the pandemic would remain in place for 2022-23.
Funding for Education and Family Support services would total £131m, social care and well-being services would receive £78m, and public realm works such as parks, street cleansing and the collection and disposal of waste would receive £22m.
Transport planning and regeneration would receive £2.2m, while £1.7m could be invested in regulatory services such as Licensing, Environmental Health and Trading Standards.
Going forward, more than £71.3m would be invested into Band B of the council’s ongoing school modernisation programme, which is designed to deliver new school premises and other educational improvements.
The budget proposals include a capital budget which incorporates £6.8m of Welsh Government funding. If agreed, this would include £1.9m for disabled facilities grants, £1.1m for minor works, and £400,000 for street lighting and bridge infrastructure renewals.
It would also enable the council to invest £400,000 in new ICT equipment, £340,000 for highways structural works, £250,000 in carriageway works, £200,000 for match funding externally funded capital schemes, £100,000 for housing renewal and empty property schemes, and £50,000 for various community projects.
Additionally, Welsh Government are also fully funding initiatives that will provide all primary school children with free school lunches, and free childcare for all two-year-olds.
The record funding from Welsh Government has made a big difference to our budget proposals for 2022-23.
While it was not something that we had anticipated, it has enabled us to develop a medium-term financial strategy that is far more comprehensive than we had hoped for while also remaining fair, generous and balanced. As a result, these budget proposals will enable us to not only freeze council tax, but to safeguard important services, invest more money and avoid having to make any significant cuts.
The proposed budget is balanced and represents a fair and responsible use of public finances, and as it makes its way through scrutiny towards full Council where a final vote will be held, I hope that all members will give it their support.
Council Leader Huw David
Today’s report marks the first step in taking the medium-term financial strategy towards full Council where all members will have an opportunity to cast their vote on its proposals.
In developing it, we have worked hard to reflect the views of the cross-party budget review and evaluation panel, and of local residents who provided important feedback through the budget consultation process. Setting a multi-million pound budget like this is not an easy task, and while we have a statutory obligation to ensure that it remains balanced at all stages of the process, it is also necessary to adapt to changing circumstances.
The additional funding provided by Welsh Government has enabled us to propose a budget which avoids the council tax increase that we previously thought would be necessary, and I would like to offer thanks to everyone who fought for this at all levels.
Deputy Leader Hywel Williams