Bridgend Council Leader issues stark warning ahead of budget planning process

copyright Lisa Baker 2021

The Leader, Cllr Huw David has issued a stark warning ahead of this year’s annual budget setting exercise.

Like many other local authorities, the council faces an unprecedented financial challenge over the coming years, which estimates that spending reductions of up to £20m in the 2023 – 2024 financial period may be required to balance the Council budget.

The local authority delivers up to 800 services ranging from education and social services for children and older people, supporting people who are homeless through to implementing regeneration projects and school modernisation programmes.

Every year, as part of the budget setting process, the council consults with the public to seek their views on what they consider should be the priority areas for allocating the budget for the forthcoming financial year, and to examine those views against funding provided by the Welsh Government.

The information collected helps steer the Council on decisions for setting a balanced budget and council tax levels.

Cllr David said: “As a result of UK Government austerity measures over the last ten years, we have made a total of £62m in budget reductions.

“However, we are still experiencing an increased demand on our services, with an unprecedented number of vulnerable older people and children needing support from our social services teams, and record numbers of homeless families requiring temporary accommodation.

“This coupled with current cost of living crisis, rising inflation, and rocketing energy costs means that our finances and services are under immense strain.

“We need to be clear, that the council will have no choice but make some extremely difficult decisions in the next few years. While we will make every effort to prioritise the streamlining of services, however given the size of the shortfall, we will inevitably have to make cuts to important services to deliver a balanced budget.

“The council will shortly be consulting on our budget for next year, to gather people’s opinions on proposed plans to achieve savings, before agreeing on its 2023/24 budget.

“With this in mind, I cannot stress enough, how important feedback from our local communities is during the budget setting period. We want to ensure we make the right decisions for our county borough, and we are looking to work together with our partners and residents to achieve this.

“I would urge you to take part in the consultation process, share your thoughts with us and feedback on the delivery of those services that really matter to you.”

More details on the consultation will be available soon.