Swansea Council eyes tax rises to fund schools and social care plans

Council chiefs in Swansea plan to spend more money on schools, social services and the environment next year, with residents helping to pay for it with higher council tax.   The Welsh Government’s draft budget has earmarked £352.6 million for…

Swansea Council eyes tax rises to fund schools and social care plans

Source

0
(0)

Council chiefs in Swansea plan to spend more money on schools, social services and the environment next year, with residents helping to pay for it with higher council tax.   The Welsh Government’s draft budget has earmarked £352.6 million for the council in 2021-22 – £13 million more than the current year – for spending on core services.   Given the importance of the settlement grant for local Government coffers, this should mean a real-terms cash increase of at least 3% for council departments.  Council leader Rob Stewart said schools and social services remained the priority.  But he added: “We are planning major investment in the visible services that people see every day ranging from fixing potholes and roads investment, to tackling littering, graffiti, weeds and those community problems that residents want to see sorted.”   Overall, the expenditure on day-to-day services in Swansea is expected to be £22 million higher in the coming financial year than currently.  Due to various cost pressures, this will rely on £8.3 million of savings – although no compulsory redundancies are expected – and more council tax income.  Finance officers are working on a Welsh Government assumption of a 5.1% council tax rise across Wales, but Cllr Stewart said no decisions had been taken – and he predicted the actual increase in Swansea will be lower.  “We acknowledge that families and residents will be facing extra pressures because of Covid,” he said.  One of the unknowns for now is how much council tax income will be down at the end of this financial year, given the disruption to people’s livelihoods caused by the pandemic.  “We are being as flexible and supportive as we can be,” said Cllr Stewart.  A budget report going before cabinet next week said the impact of Covid-19 in terms of extra costs and lost income could last for a further 18 months.  Cllr Stewart said the authority was still owed around £30 million by central Government for Covid response costs it had incurred.  But he was confident that the council would meet its current savings targets and would not post an end-of-year deficit.  The council is also planning to create a multi-million pound Brexit and pandemic recovery fund to support the local economy and services.  Meanwhile, council spending on major capital programme projects, such as the indoor arena and new schools, will continue in 2021-22.  Cllr Stewart said the Labour-led authority had delivered savings worth £70 million over the last five years. It also posted an £18 million underspend in 2019-2020.  “This prudent approach to financial management meant that when Covid-19 struck last year we were able to draw on millions of pounds of our own reserves to support community services,” said Cllr Stewart.  The draft budget will be discussed by cabinet and then go out for public consultation. A final version will then go before full council on March 4.  Cllr Stewart said: “We are determined to keep on delivering the vital frontline ser

0 / 5. 0