Flintshire County Council Statement on Budget 2018/19
For the past two years we have been saying publicly that the ongoing budget
position is not sustainable and that local services are under serious threat.
Through a combination of being inventive in organising ourselves and our
services to save money, making best use of our resources, and having great
support from our communities in accommodating change and taking on more
responsibility for providing services for themselves - for example through
community asset transfers, we have been able to get through. 2018/19 might be
the year that the budget challenge is just too great.
We are facing a cut in our Welsh Government grant and have no protection
against the costs of inflation and the increasing demands for services such as
social care. We are facing a budget gap of around £13-14M. This is the on the
back of successfully achieving budget efficiencies of around £80M over the past
decade. It is unreasonable for councils to be put in this position. Governments
have a responsibility to properly fund councils to provide local services to
meet the needs and entitlements of communities and citizens.
All councils across the country are facing major budget challenges. We have
made the strong case that, as a low funded council in Wales, Flintshire is
particularly exposed to the effects of year on year cuts in public spending.
We have local support for this case.
We are just completing the first stage of our budget planning for 2018/19 with
the first £3M of savings set out. We are now working on the second stage. We
are having to consider only offering to schools a ‘cash-flat’ budget with no
extra funding for them to meet their own inflation costs, restricting access to
some services, raising some service charges, and possibly the highest annual
rise in Council Tax in Flintshire for some years. As things stand, and unless
Government policy changes, this will not be the end of it, as there will still
be a budget gap to bridge. The third and final stage of the budget, in the New
Year, could see the closure of local facilities and services. This is the level
of threat we face.
We again call on Welsh Government to increase funding in social care and
schools in Wales, to improve the Local Government Provisional Settlement, to
give councils local freedoms to recover costs through charging for example in
domiciliary care, and to return a proportion of the Apprentice Tax Levy for
councils as employers to fund their own apprenticeship schemes.
We support Welsh Government, the Welsh Local Government Association, the Local
Government Association, the community of local councils across Wales and
England, the recognised Trade Unions, the workforce of local government, and
the many interest groups who care about public services – to pressure the UK
Government to reverse its policy of austerity to give sufficient funding to
local government - to save the day.