Council warns of cuts of £10 million due to ‘challenging times’
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
A council has warned that cuts and savings worth £10 million need to be made in next year’s budget.
Blaenau Gwent Council has told residents that “some difficult decisions” lie ahead following the Welsh Government announcing mid-year spending cuts in an emergency budget statement last month.
In August it was revealed that the Welsh Government had a £900 million deficit gap to manage.
It has also been predicted that there will be £395 million shortfall in funding for Welsh local authorities over the next two years.
In a recent meeting, council leader Cllr Steve Thomas said: “We are concerned around the budget, pressures are coming upon us and it’s getting, dare I say, bleaker by the day right throughout the country.”
A council statement said: “The upcoming budget setting for process for 2024/2025 alone will be a really challenging time for all local authorities in Wales. We have to find almost £10 million to balance next year’s budget.”
The statement says this could rise to £35 million over the next five years. It said: “High inflation and energy prices have and continue to increase the cost of delivering services.
“The cost-of-living crisis is increasing demand which means the council is being asked for higher levels of support at the same time.
“Without an increase in funding from central Government it means that some difficult decisions will have to be made for next year’s budget, as rising costs continue to hit our budgets hard.
Review of services
The statement explains the council will need to look at “everything” it does to see if it’s “sustainable” to continue providing certain services.
“We will need to review the level and frequency of some services and look at whether there is a need to increase or implement charges,” it said.
It is expected that the Welsh Government will announce next year’s level of funding for local authorities in the run up to Christmas.
This will start the council’s budget making in earnest and will see Blaenau Gwent residents asked their views in a consultation on what the “priority areas” of services that need protecting should be.
The statement said: “There are no proposals at this stage, and we will be seeking your views in the next couple of months as we consider plans to set a budget for 2024/2025 and beyond.”
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