BLAENAU Gwent received a positive settlement from Welsh Government for the second year running which will see its budget increase by 3.6% for 2021-22 and this has provided the council with an extra £4.2 million in funding above initial budget estimates.
This and the focus on a series of targeted projects to strengthen the financial future of the Council has allowed a balanced budget for councillors to approve, with no cuts to front line services.
The Council understands the value of the services it provides for local residents and this is a welcome position for next year as the priority is to recover from the unprecedented impact of Coronavirus.
The agreed budget will see the council:
Protect key front line services;
Provide additional funding of 3.6% for all schools in Blaenau Gwent;
Fund increasing demand and service pressures in key areas valued by residents and confirmed using the feedback from our recent budget survey including:
– increased funding for Social Services of £1,014,490 (+2.2%)
– extra investment in environment projects of – £683,480 (+4.1%)
– Council Tax reduction scheme budget of £9.6m
Enable new, community-focused investment including new hubs located in libraries to allow local access to council services for residents; and
Create efficiencies and financial resilience for the future by continuing the ‘Bridging the Gap’ programme.
An increase of 3.3% for the Blaenau Gwent element of Council Tax was approved – this equates to an increase of 72p a week increase for a Band A property and an 84p a week increase for Band B households.
Due to the high number of properties in these lower band properties (85%), the level of Council Tax people actually pay is on average one of the lowest in Wales.
The increase in the level of Council tax is expected to be the lowest in Gwent and 0.6% lower than the level agreed in 2020-21.
Councillor Nigel Daniels, Leader of the Council commented:
“I believe the Budget we have approved today is a fair and balanced one. The positive settlement from the Welsh Government for next year is welcome news at the end of probably our most challenging year ever. As a Council, we have been focused on forward financial planning over the last few years and I am pleased that we have been able to put forward a set of proposals that will see no major service changes as we focus on our key priorities.
This budget protects vital services and helps us plan for a sustainable future as we recover from the demands of dealing with Covid-19.
I would like to thank everyone who responded to the survey we conducted as part of the budget setting process. We have listened to your views to set our spending priorities and we have tried to keep the level of Council Tax as low as possible in these uncertain times. I am especially pleased that we are able to keep the increase lower than in the last financial year.
The 2021/22 budget not only demonstrates our commitment to protecting and improving services for all residents in Blaenau Gwent in the short term but also and building financial resilience for the demands local government will no doubt face in future years.”