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Council Leader warns of toughest budget yet

Bridgend (Adobe Stock)

Bridgend County Borough Council’s Leader Huw David has warned that the upcoming budget setting process for 2024/2025 will be the toughest of his time in local government.

At the end of the first quarter of the financial year, the council has a projected year end overspend of approximately £10 million.

The main financial pressures are in the service areas of Home to School Transport and Social Services and Wellbeing. The sustained high levels of inflation are having an impact on the cost of Home to School Transport while Social Care is particularly affected by an exponential increase in demand.

The local authority delivers up to 800 services ranging from education and social services for children and older people, supporting people who are homeless through to implementing regeneration projects and school modernisation programmes.

Every year, as part of the budget setting process, the council consults with the public to seek their views on what they consider should be the priority areas for allocating the budget for the forthcoming financial year, and to examine those views against funding provided by the Welsh Government.

From a financial perspective, this is a really challenging time for local authorities all over the United Kingdom and unfortunately, we are not exempt to these pressures here in Bridgend County Borough. A perfect storm has been created in relation to local government finances with the ongoing war in Ukraine, Brexit and of course the sustained high levels of inflation all having an impact. The vast majority of local authorities and health boards all find themselves in a similar position to us.

Regrettably, this means that some difficult decisions will have to be made for next year’s budget and it is inevitable that we are going to have to look very closely at everything we do and determine if it’s sustainable to continue doing it in the same way moving forward. We will also need to review the level and frequency of some services and look at whether there is a need to increase or implement charges.

At this stage, there are no confirmed proposals, but I want to make residents aware of the scale of the situation before any formal proposals emerge. Despite these challenges, we remain an ambitious and successful local authority, delivering some fantastic services and projects for local people that make Bridgend a wonderful place to live and work. Our new Corporate Plan, ‘Delivering Together’, will also play a key part in helping the council to achieve our aims between now and 2028. Finally, I would like to ask residents to keep an eye out for our budget consultation later this year. I would urge you to take part in the process and share your thoughts with us on the delivery of those services that really matter to you.

Council Leader, Councillor Huw David