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Blaenau Gwent need to pay for wage increases by using contingency budget

COUNCILLORS will be told next week that Blaenau Gwent council will have to dip into a contingency fund to be able to afford staff pay increases.

The financial outlook for Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council as it stood  at the end of June will be discussed in two meetings next week

The report by the council’s chief officer for resources, Rhian Hayden will be first discussed at meeting of the council’s Corporate and Performance scrutiny committee on Tuesday September 20.

The report will also then go in front of the Cabinet on Wednesday, September 21.

Ms Hayden says in her report that the forecast considers the current local government employers pay proposal for 2022/23.

This is a £1,925 increase on all pay scales.

If agreed this will result in pay increases ranging from four per cent to 10 per cent, with the average increase being 6.3 per cent.

Ms Hayden said: “The impact of the proposed pay award will increase costs compared to 2021/22 by £3 million.”

The budget set by the previous Independent administration in February had assumed and budgeted for a four per cent increase in wages.

As the new plans mean many will see increases above the four per cent, Ms Hayden explains that an extra £1.15 million is needed to cover the higher salaries.

Of this, £877,540 will come from a Pay Award Contingency Budget that had been set aside to deal with this issue, while Ms Hayden says the remaining £272,460, will come from departmental “underspending budgets.”

Councillors on the Cabinet are expected approve this transfer of money.

Another headache for councillors is that at the end of June it was forecast that Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council would be £570,000 over its £169.19 million budget by the end of March 2023.

The balance sheet shows that several departments are struggling to live within their means.

Education is forecast to be £220,000 over its allotted budget of £68.3 million.

Environment is forecast to be £480,000 over its allotted budget of £29.66 million and the Economic Development Unit is also set to be £60,000 over its budget of £1.79 million.

Set against these predicted losses, Social Services is predicted to be £60,000 under its budget of £49.94 million.

The corporate services, financial management and strategy department is also predicted to be £130,000 under its budget of £17.92 million.

Ms Hayden said  that £620,000 as “net transfer” will go to departmental “specific reserve budgets” to cover the shortfall.

Once all these money transfers have been done, the council’s budget will be left £50,000 under budget.

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