01/24/2022

Wales News Online

Newyddion Lleol a Chenedlaethol Cymru – Local and National News for Wales

CARDIFF council is asking the public for views on next year’s budget and a potential council tax increase of four per cent.

At the start of each year the council sets out its budget working out how much money to spend on services like schools, roads, waste collections and social care.

Council tax is modelled to rise by four per cent in April, which would bring in an extra £6.4 million income. Each budget runs from April until March, following the financial year.

The budget consultation runs from Thursday, January 13 until February 4. It will ask the public for their views on which council services should be prioritised for investment.

Councillor Chris Weaver, cabinet member for finance, said: “The consultation findings will play a key role in us drawing up the details of Cardiff council’s 2022–23 budget proposals. Those proposals will then be presented to the council’s cabinet and scrutiny committees next month, ahead of a vote by the full council in March.

“It is important that we hear from as many people, from as wide a range of backgrounds as possible, to help us draw up our budget proposals for the coming year, and I would encourage everyone to take part in the consultation when it opens.”

About three quarters of the budget comes from government funding, and one quarter from council tax. The council spends about two thirds of its budget on schools and social services.

For the past couple of years, the Welsh Government has helped councils cover the costs of responding to the pandemic with a Covid-19 Hardship Fund. However this support is expected to end in April with the start of a new financial year, creating a “significant risk of financial resilience” to Cardiff council, which has claimed at least £114 million from the fund.

This money went towards buying extra costs like personal protective equipment, providing emergency accommodation for homeless people, and feeding children on free school meals during lockdown. The hardship fund also helped cover lost income from places like Cardiff Castle, theatres and sports venues, and parking and traffic tickets and fines.

Part of the loss of this hardship fund will be covered by a hefty increase of more than 10 per cent in the local government settlement—how much money Cardiff council receives from the Welsh Government for ordinary spending. This means an extra £52.6 million for the council to spend on areas like rising wages for carers and national insurance increases in April.

Next year Cardiff council will likely receive about £545 million from government grants, making up 73 per cent of its overall income, and about £203 million from council tax, making up 27 per cent of income.

More details of the budget will be published in February, including which services will see extra cash and where any savings might be made. Scrutiny committees will then quiz council bosses on different parts of the budget, before it is sent to the cabinet on February 24. Then on March 3, the whole council will meet to debate and most likely vote to pass the budget.

During a cabinet meeting on Thursday, January 13, opposition councillors called for the cost of living crisis to be factored into the decision on how much to raise council tax. Energy bills and national insurance tax are both set to increase in April, as well as council tax. Although elsewhere in Wales, council tax could be frozen in Neath Port Talbot, to help with this crisis.

Cllr Adrian Robson, leader of the Conservative group on Cardiff council, said: “Householders have been surviving on emergency budgets for the last couple of years in many instances.

“Council tax does not need to be at four per cent, absolutely not, there’s no way it should be four per cent. It should be a lot, lot lower.”

Council leader Huw Thomas replied: “We’re all very aware of the cost of living crisis that a lot of households in Cardiff are facing, not least through energy bill rises and the forthcoming national insurance tax increase as well. We will reflect upon that point, rest assured.”

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