Council projects £13m funding gap for next year
Anthony Lewis, local democracy reporter
A council leader has predicted a budget gap of £13m for next year, even with a 3.4% increase in its funding.
Responding to the recent Welsh Government provisional budget, the leader of Merthyr Tydfil Council confirmed the shortfall despite the increase being more than anticipated.
In the announcement about council funding for next year on December 20, Welsh Government confirmed a 3.1% increase across the board and said that no council would get an increase of less than 2%.
The settlement will see Merthyr Tydfil’s budget increase by 3.4% from £118.8m to £122.9m, a rise of more than £4m.
Merthyr Tydfil’s increase for next year is ranked the 5th highest across the 22 Welsh councils.
The council said in its response to the budget settlement: “Like all other councils across the country, we continue to be faced with uncertain times.
“Over the last 15 years, councils have had budget cuts which have caused them to struggle with balancing budgets while maintaining crucial services.
“This year is no different, with a budget settlement of 3.4% confirmed by Welsh Government on 20th December, 2023.
The leader of the council, Councillor Geraint Thomas, said: “Whilst this settlement is slightly more than the projected 3.1%, this still leaves us with a funding gap of £13m for the 2024-25 financial year.
“Council officers have been working hard over recent months to identify savings across the organisation to close this funding gap, and we will continue to explore all options to identify further savings to balance the budget for the next financial year.”
For the current financial year (2023/2024), Merthyr Tydfil Council received a 7% increase in funding with a 7.9% increase in funding for councils overall from Welsh Government.
In March, a budget including a 4.7% council tax rise was passed for this financial year through a casting vote by the mayor following a split vote.
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