FLINTSHIRE County Council’s Cabinet meets next week to make final recommendations for setting a balanced budget for the 2022/23 financial year.
The Council received an annual uplift of 9.2% in its grant from Welsh Government compared with the Welsh Average of 9.4%.
However, this uplift needs to cover a number of specific responsibilities such as the full impact of pay awards for the Teaching and Non-Teaching workforce and the implementation of the Real Living Wage. In addition the Welsh Governments’ Hardship Fund which has been utilised to cover the additional costs and lost income arising from the pandemic will cease at the end of March meaning that they will need to be borne by the Council.
In previous years, Council has set a clear direction that any annual increase should be at 5% or less.
Taking all of this into account provides an additional budget requirement of £30.562m. In addition to the uplift in the Welsh Government – an overall annual increase of 3.3% is required on Council tax for all Council Services and 0.65% to meet the cost of additional contributions to North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Regional Coroners Service and Regional Education Consortium GwE. This equates to an overall uplift of 3.95% and provides overall additional yield of £3.825m in 2022/23.
This amounts to an annual increase of £55.08 per annum and brings the amount to £1,449.58 on a Band D equivalent (£1.06 per week equivalent).
Flintshire, like all councils, is heavily dependent on Governments to fund the public services properly after years of austerity and public sector cuts at the national level Welsh Government have provided much lower indicative allocations for 2023/24 and 2024/25 of 3.5% and 2.4% respectively which will present real challenges to meet continuing increases in inflationary and service demands, particularly in social care.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor Ian Roberts, said:
“We have worked hard to ensure that we present a balanced budget and maintain Council services. We are acutely aware of the financial pressures which all households are facing and have therefore kept our Council tax increase to under 4%.”
The Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Paul Johnson, said:
“Whilst the increased allocation from Welsh Government for 2022/23 was welcome it does still present significant challenges to meet the additional responsibilities for workforce costs and the ending of the Hardship Fund from which we have been heavily reliant. Despite these challenges, we have still been able to recommend a a balanced budget position to Council whilst keeping the annual council tax uplift below inflation. We are a low-funded council that makes efficient use of our resources as regularly confirmed by our financial regulator Audit Wales.”