Welsh councils planning at least £182.0 million of savings in current financial year
Twm Owen, local democracy reporter
Councils across Wales are planning to make at least £182.0 million of savings in the current financial year.
Figures compiled through an analysis of council finances by the BBC shared data unit also show that 20, of 22 councils predict a combined two-year funding shortfall of £394.8m by 2025/26.
Council tax payers in Gwent are seeing the biggest cuts per head in Wales as local authorities struggle to get to grips with squeezed budgets.
Both Newport and Monmouthshire councils have been highlighted as being among councils making the biggest savings per resident while the two authorities top the table when it comes to savings as a percentage of their budgets.
Newport council is making savings of £19.5m this year, with only Rhondda Cynon Taf (£28.7m) and Swansea (£20.3m), reducing spending by more but neither represents as a big a percentage of their overall budget as the amount being saved in Newport which at 5.2 per cent of its total £373m budget is the largest such figure in Wales.
That is closely followed by Monmouthshire where the £10.15m being cut this year works out at 5.1 per cent of its £200.81m budget.
When it comes to the savings per resident Newport is reducing spending by £122.1 for everyone of the city’s 159,658 citizens while in Monmouthshire there will be £108.9 less spent on all of its 93,194 residents. In Torfaen spending per resident is reducing by just £41.82.
Only Powys council, at £123.5, is reducing spending more per resident than Newport while it and Rhondda Cynon Taf (£117.1), are the only councils making more savings per resident than Monmouthshire.
Newport is predicting a £26.97m shortfall in funding by 2025/26 while Monmouthshire anticipates being £15m short of what it needs to fund services in two years time.
The situation facing other Gwent councils shows Caerphilly is planning £11.80m of savings this year and is predicting a £48.34m budget shortfall by 2025/26 while in Torfaen the council has planned £3.87m of savings this year and expects a £17.36m shortfall over the two years.
When Torfaen’s cabinet agreed its budget in March it said cuts and changes to services as a result of its savings would be “minimal”.
When it comes to savings per resident in Caerphilly the budget squeeze means the council is spending £67.04 less on each of its 176,005 residents this year and its total savings represent 2.7 per cent of its £438.72m budget.
In Torfaen the council is spending £41.82 less on each of its 92,453 residents while the savings amount to just 1.7 per cent of its £223.00m budget.
Blaenau Gwent, which has a budget this year of £181.85m and a population of 66,993, didn’t respond to the survey but in February this year said it would have to make £3.03m in cuts and savings during the 2023/24 financial year.
Across the UK the 190 authorities surveyed said they would need to find £5.2 billion to balance the books by April 2026 – even after making £2.5bn of cuts this year.
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