Bridgend Council’s final budget for 2020-21 is due to be discussed later this week. Here’s a summary.
The Overall Picture (pdf)
As mentioned a few weeks ago, Bridgend received a 4.6% funding increase for 2020-21 from the Welsh Government.
This better-than-expected settlement has meant cuts have been pared back this year, but BCBC still had to find just over £2.4million worth of cuts and savings and is expected to find £29.3million in total by 2023-24.
Perhaps the biggest story from the budget is that a controversial proposed hike in sports facility hire fees has been suspended. It’s been insinuated on social media that the policy has been completely dropped, but that’s not true. The suspension will allow further work on Community Asset Transfer – more on this tomorrow.
Elsewhere, the schools budget has been frozen which means a potential cut of up to £955,000 has been avoided.
Where will cuts and savings will come from in 2020-21? (pdf)
Education & Family Support (-£239,000)
- Savings resulting from departmental underspends (-£87,000).
- Implementation of statutory minimum distances for free school travel – though the policy here is still being developed (-£75,000).
- Review of non-school and childcare staff (-£60,000).
- Reduction in BCBC’s contribution to the Central South School Consortium (-£17,000).
Social Services & Wellbeing (-£820,000)
- Increased income as a result of an expected lift in the weekly cap for social care charges by the Welsh Government (-£200,000).
- Review of staffing across the directorate (-£175,000).
- Review of care packages (-£150,000).
- Savings from a review of the Halo leisure contract, libraries, swimming pools and leisure centres, with possible cuts to opening hours (-£130,000).
- Remodelling day services (-£90,000).
- Increasing income generated by mobile response and telecare teams (-£75,000).
- Savings from the corporate landlord model (-£350,000).
- Review of parks and playing fields services (-£69,000).
- Increased charges for green waste, bulky waste and savings from cutting recycling centre opening hours (-£52,000).
- Review of frontline highways department staff (-£50,000).
- Savings as a result of the contract to run Kenfig Nature Reserve expiring and the Bridgend Town Centre BID ending (-£50,000).
- Review of Porthcawl Marina fees (-£25,000).
- Increasing fees related to Bridgend Business Forum (-£18,000).
- Introduction of charges for Bridgend shopmobility (-£18,000).
- Possible Welsh Government funding towards a new purple bag collection vehicle (-£14,000).
Administration, Chief Executive & Council-Wide (-£708,000)
- Various administrative savings including a cut to HR and business support staffing budgets, reviews of legal fees, cuts to partnership service budgets and savings from improved auditing (-£508,000).
- Savings from an improved public liability insurance contract (-£150,000).
- Cut to apprenticeship levy funding (-£50,000).
Capital Spending (pdf)
Amongst the projects included in the capital programme for 2020-21:
- £6.4million for the Maesteg Town Hall redevelopment project.
- £5.6million towards the Cardiff City Region Deal.
- £3million for road resurfacing.
- £2.75million for Porthcawl regeneration projects.
- £2.5million towards the Waterton depot upgrade.
- £2.09million towards new fleet vehicles (electric vehicles, charged at a new facility at Stormy Down, have been mentioned – but I can’t confirm that).
- £1.9million for work on the Caerau geothermal heat project.
- £1.4million for energy-efficient street lighting.
- £1.3million towards the new recycling centre in Pyle.
- £905,000 towards a multi-agency social service hub at Brynteg Comprehensive.
- £816,000 to develop Welsh-medium nursery provision in Bettws, Bridgend, Ogmore Vale and Porthcawl.
- £660,000 towards parks and pavilions as part of the Community Asset Transfer programme.
- £387,000 for additional learning needs services at Cefn Cribwr Primary.
- £128,000 towards (the seeming revival) of a proposed residents-only parking scheme in Bridgend town centre.
Council Tax, Precepts, Charges & Fees
The only confirmed change to the council’s fees (pdf) is the recently-approved introduction of annual membership (£5) and hire charges (£3-per-hire) for users of Bridgend town’s shopmobility scheme – more details here.
Council tax is set to increase by 4.5%, which is lower than an original projection of 6.5%. The average Band D bill will increase to £1,537.06 (+£66.19) before adding precepts.
It’s election year for South Wales Police & Crime Commissioner, Alun Michael (Lab), but there’s no let-up on the inflation-busting precept increases, with the policing precept set to increase by 5.9% to around £273 for a Band D property (+£15.00) – though this isn’t as big an increase as in previous years.
The fire service precept charged to the council as a whole is set to increase by £325,000.
As you can see there’s some big variation in the town & community council precepts. Bridgend Town Council retains the largest precept overall.
Though (I honestly don’t know whether this is a mistake or not) Cefn Cribwr Community Council – one of Bridgend’s smallest community councils – has seen the biggest increase in the precept making it the second-highest overall. I’m assuming there’s a big one-off expense the community council are contributing towards.
Brackla Community Council has frozen its precept, while three community councils – Maesteg Town, Merthyr Mawr and Ynysawdre – have cut theirs.
The total council tax bill for each property band looks like this: