Jobs and service cuts on cards at Flintshire Council
Rory Sheehan, Local Democracy Reporter
Jobs and services will likely be cut as Flintshire Council seeks to balance its budget ahead of next year.
The predicted shortfall in the council’s budget 2023-24 budget has risen by almost another £8m in recent months with the figure currently at £24.348m and rising.
The impact of teaching pay awards and increase in the cost of utilities such as gas and electricity amid rising inflation have been given as reasons for the revised figure, presented in a report at this month’s cabinet meeting.
It followed discussion at Flintshire Council’s Corporate Resources and Overview scrutiny committee last week where Independent Group leader, Connah’s Quay Central Cllr Bernie Attridge, called on the authority to send representatives to Cardiff to plead for a better settlement from Welsh Government.
He said: “It’s time for Flintshire Council get down to Cardiff Bay and tell the ministers and decisions makers, they need to hear us loud and clear.
“The only help and lifeline we’ve got is Welsh Government as we cannot rely on ratepayers.
“It seems to be okay for health boards, and the budget mess they get in, but what happens is that they get bailed out. Why can’t they (Welsh Government) start doing that for local government? Let’s start having the same treatment as the health boards?”
In response, Leader of the Council, Cllr Ian Roberts (Lab) said “fulsome representations” were already being made to the Welsh Government but lack of support from the UK Government in Westminster was also an issue.
At the end of the meeting members resolved to write to both governments to plead Flintshire’s case for more support.
At this month’s cabinet meeting, which he chaired, Cllr Roberts delivered the stark message that job cuts were likely within the authority as it looked to make “quite serious cuts” in an effort to set a balanced and legal budget.
He said: “Some of these cuts will inevitably be in staff, it’s the only way. The organisation has no other possibility.”
Earlier in the meeting, chief executive Neal Cockerton acknowledged that the euphemism ‘efficiencies’ was no longer appropriate to describe the cuts to services.
He added: “There will be really difficult conversations within services about where we can make the budget balanced with the cuts we have to make.”
Cabinet noted the current projections and they will now be discussed at a series of scrutiny committee meetings, and members workshops, before a budget is set in February.
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