It’s that time of year again. The time of year we learn what cuts and savings will be made to Bridgend Council services and how much Council Tax is set to rise.
The General Picture (pdf)
Due to new spending commitments imposed upon them by the Welsh Government (lifting the capital limit for residential care, small business rate relief and homelessness prevention), BCBC had additional spending commitments of £479,000 compared to last year. However, Welsh Government policy this year has been to ensure no council in Wales sees a cut greater than 0.5% of their funding grant.
Despite projecting a £1.25million under-spend in December 2017, BCBC had to find just over £6.1million in cuts/savings for 2018-19 – an increase of around £300,000 on 2017-18. The council predict they’ll need to cut/save £32.6million in total by 2021-22.
There won’t be a cut to the schools budget this year (as there was last year) as the budget has been frozen, but cuts for future years have been factored in.
Councillors are set to vote on the budget later this month, though as Labour are a minority administration it’ll need the support of some opposition councillors.
Where are the cuts/savings going to be made? (pdf)
Education & Family Support (-£630,000)
- Only fill essential staff vacancies (-£150,000)
- Review special school home-school transport (-£75,000)
- Cuts to school catering due to reduced take-up (-£71,000)
- Phased introduction of new home-school transport policy for maintstream schools (-£67,000)
- Cut to sixth form grants (-£60,000)
- Collaborate with other local authorities on special needs support (-£50,000)
- Restructure family support service (-£50,000)
- Cut to school contingency budget (-£30,000)
- Merge health & safety service with other local authorities (-£25,000)
- Cuts to Traded Services to Schools brochure (-£20,000)
- Cut to Education Improvement Grant (-£20,000)
- Cut to contribution to South Central Educational Consortium (-£12,000)
Social Services & Wellbeing (-£350,000)
- Savings from the development of extra care facilities (-£330,000)
- Review the Healthy Living Partnership contract (-£20,000)
- Introducing a corporate landlord model (-£500,000)
- Cuts to street cleaning (-£200,000)
- Proposed cuts to bus subsidies (-£188,000)
- Efficiency savings in streetworks, business unit and engineering (-£162,000)
- Rationalisation of BCBC offices/estate (-£114,000)
- Efficiencies from switching to LED street lights (-£110,000)
- Cuts to public toilet subsidies (subject to consultation) (-£100,000)
- Cuts to regeneration commissioning, economic development and major events budget (-£80,000)
Administration & Council-wide Spending (-£3.69million)
- Cut to borrowing costs (-£1.17million)
- Cut to budget for changes to corporate pensions and national insurance contributions (-£773,000)
Review internal staffing and management structures (-£660,000)
- Cut to Council Tax Reduction scheme (-£400,000)
- Cut bad debt and increase recovery income from housing benefit (-£221,000)
- Rationalisation of IT hardware and software usage (-£210,000)
- Cut to equalisation budget for PFI funding as it’s no longer needed (-£187,000)
- Cut to capital funding for Glamorgan Record Office after loan was repaid (-£80,000)
- Offer BCBC staff the opportunity to buy additional leave (-£10,000)
Capital Spending (pdf)
BCBC have budgeted £33.8million in capital spending (new project) for 2018-19. The highlights include:
- There are no significant new school projects due to start during 2018-19, but £3.3million is committed to finishing existing projects, including the new Bettws Primary/Ysgol Cwm Garw, new Brynmenyn Primary and new Pencoed Primary.
- £1.5million towards Extra Care facilities (which are currently under construction in Maesteg and Ynysawdre).
- £600,000 towards a children’s residential care hub at Newbridge House.
- £2.5million towards continuing sea defence improvements in Porthcawl.
- £1.3million towards a new community recycling centre in Pyle.
- £1million towards parks and pavilions (though this is likely linked to Community Asset Transfers).
- £1.9million this coming financial year towards the Cardiff City Region Deal.
- £2million for road and footway resurfacing.
- £2.4million for the “Llynfi Valley Redevelopment Programme” (I’m not entirely sure what this is).
- £3.8million for the relocation of depot facilities from Waterton to Bryncethin.
- £2.7million towards disability housing renewal grants.
Council Tax, Charges & Fees
Council Tax is set to rise by 4.5% in 2018-19, meaning the average Band D bill will rise to £1,395.51 (+£59.79).
The South Wales Police & Crime Commissioner, Alun Michael (Lab), will increase the policing precept by an inflation-busting 7% to £233.52 (+£15.28).
The average Town & Community Council precept will rise by a whopping 20.2% to £46.76 (+£7.84) – though this will vary depending on which town or community council you live in – bringing the grand total average Band D bill for 2018-19 to £1,675.82 – an increase of 5.2% on 2016-17.
In terms of changes to fees and charges for council services, there aren’t many (pdf):
- Planning services will charge to provide copies of planning documents, starting at £1 for an A4 sheet up to £20 for an A0 sheet.
- Building regulations fees will rise by 5% – meaning an average increase of £27 for a householder project.