Council unveils plans to to save close to £30 million next year
Nicholas Thomas, local democracy reporter
A council has confirmed there will be cuts to some services, and some council-owned sites will close, as it unveiled how it plans to save around £30 million next year to “set a balanced budget”.
Council tax bills in Caerphilly also look set to go up in April by a proposed 6.9%, and the local authority will also dip into its reserves for a “one-off” use of £11m.
Some cuts to the workforce could also be made, generally for positions which are currently unfilled.
Many of the proposals will form part of a public consultation, meaning residents can have their say on the council’s plans before final decisions are made.
Here’s how Caerphilly County Borough Council is proposing to save money in next year’s budget:
The hourly charge for home care may rise by 10%, and the budget for home assistance and reablement could be reduced temporarily, by £1m, “to reflect current difficulties in recruiting carers and securing care packages”.
Contributions to a Gwent-wide frailty service will be held back this year after underspends in previous years.
Education, schools and libraries
Book funding for libraries may be cut, as could post-16 school transport and the budget for the council’s youth service.
Music funding may go down by 10%, and the council’s contribution to the Education Achievement Service could be cut by the same percentage.
The council will also “save” money by not spending or allocating funds to certain projects. It will not make a revenue contribution to its capital programme next year, will receive more income on its investments due to higher interest rates, and will avoid debt charges because it is not planning to borrow in 2024/25.
Training budgets will be cut by 20% across many departments, and there will be “adjustments” to overall pay budgets to “incorporate vacancy management”.
Some open positions will disappear from the payroll – vacancies for a benefits assessor, an administrative assistant, a complaints officer, and a HR manager are all at risk of being unfilled
The hiring of two community safety wardens will also be put on hold.
Other staff will be “consolidated” at the council’s headquarters in Tredomen, and several “back office satellite sites” will shut down.
Coffi Vista could be closed down, and the building in Caerphilly town centre leased to the private sector and staff redeployed.
The Winding House museum, in New Tredegar, is set to be “mothballed” with the potential for a community asset transfer. Staff will be moved “temporarily” to other buildings, but the site’s Victorian winding engine will continue to be run by volunteers.
Budgets for non-essential building maintenance and facilities management maintenance could both be reduced by 20% in a temporary measure.
Leisure and green spaces
Fees for using outdoor sports pitches could rise by a further 20% to raise income.
Funding for caretaker costs in community centres may be cut, and the council’s subsidy for Markham Community Leisure Centre could be withdrawn gradually over the next three years.
The budget for maintaining cemeteries may be cut temporarily, and the council could charge an extra £140 for the treatment of Japanese knotweed.
The council is set to use £11.39m from its reserves to balance the budget against short-term pressures.
But in a report to the cabinet, the deputy chief executive warned that “to continuously salami slice our services and deplete our reserves is not a sustainable or an appropriate approach”.
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