My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

Council to invest £1.9m a day to support Swansea residents

More community play areas, free bus services during school holidays and free school meals for more children are in the pipeline for Swansea over the coming months.

In the coming year the council will be investing around £1.9m a day to help hard-pressed families through the cost of living crisis.

Hundreds of millions of pounds are also being invested in schools, social services, roads, council housing and other key services that touch the lives of residents every day under proposals agreed by Swansea Council on Thursday March 2.

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said: “When times are tough for us all, we are transforming what we do to support residents.

“We were there for the people of Swansea through the pandemic and we are here now to help them through the cost of living crisis.”

Among the highlights of the budget unveiled yesterday are:

  • An extra £12m for education and £11.6m for social care to take spend to a combined £371.5m
  • A package of capital spending worth an overall £153m
  • At least £5m for highways, with £450,000 on top for the popular PATCH community road repair service
  • A £23.5m upgrade for the sea wall and prom in Mumbles
  • The start of a five-year £270m programme of council house building and improvements with more affordable homes for rent
  • A £15m energy fund to help schools and civic buildings manage soaring fuel bills.
  • Almost £8m for building repairs in schools and other council buildings.

A council tax increase has been agreed at 5.95% or £1.30 a week for a Band B property.

Cllr Stewart said: “Council tax in Swansea has been set at well under the 10% rate of inflation because we understand pressures households are under. More than a third of the rise is due to a 16.54% increase in the fire service levy which is a cost beyond the council’s control.”

He added: “The majority of the council’s investment next year will be – as it should be – to educate our children and support the most vulnerable children and older people in our communities.

“But we also know that investments like free buses and high-quality community play areas also make the difference for many families facing the cost of living crisis every day.

“The feedback we’ve had shows during school holidays it’s free bus services that often makes trips possible and it’s our wonderful parks, beaches, countryside and play areas that make those journey worthwhile.

“That’s why we are investing £600,000 in free bus services over the next 12 months. We were the first in Wales to do it and now others follow our lead.

“We’re also spending another £2m on top of the £5m already invested in upgrading play areas and a further £1m on skate facilities.

“We’ve done more than 40 play areas so far and we are not stopping.”

Cllr Stewart said that despite the financial pressures the council faces – not least soaring energy bills – every community in Swansea will benefit from the coming year’s budget.

Swansea has succeeded in attracting tens of millions of pounds in grants from the Welsh and UK governments. It means significant projects can kick off this year, ranging from more improvements at the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks to a further extension of the 120km community active travel network.

Work has just started in Mumbles on the £23.5m flood defence improvements that will see more trees, green space, a wider prom and lighting in keeping with the new environment.

As well as that, £270m of housing investment – paid for with rents and grants – will see more affordable council homes for rent being built alongside ongoing work to improve the existing stock of 13,500 houses.

Cllr Stewart said: “The investment in homes will include the creation of a dedicated mould and damp team, fast-tracking action to help tenants deal with the problem wherever they find it in their homes.

“At a time when our residents need support, stability and hope for the future, Swansea Council is doing all it can to deliver on people’s priorities.”