BRIDGEND County Borough Council’s leader Huw David has warned of potential budget cuts ahead of this year’s annual budget setting, with its finanaces and services described as being under “immense strain”.
The council has said it faces “an unprecedented financial challenge” over the coming years, and estimates that spending reductions of up to £20m in the 2023-24 financial period may be required to balance its budget.
The local authority currently supports about 800 services, ranging from education and social services for children and older people, to regeneration projects and support for the homeless.
It will now begin to consult with members of the public as part of its budget setting process to get views on what they consider to be the priority areas for allocating the budget for the forthcoming financial year.
Cllr David has admitted that increased demand for services combined with the cost-of-living crisis will inevitably lead to difficult decisions for the council over the next few years that would likely lead to cuts.
He said: “As a result of UK Government austerity measures over the last 10 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, 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.”