11/29/2022

Wales News Online

Local & National News for Wales

Newport City Council has said it expects to go over its budget by £3.2 million.
Despite setting aside contingency money of nearly £5 million the council has forecast an overspend in its first review of the 2022/23 budget.

At a cabinet meeting held on Wednesday, October 12, council leader Jane Mudd said: “I cannot emphasise strongly enough the financial pressures the authority is experiencing at the moment.”

Cllr Mudd revealed to cabinet members that the overspend was largely due to an “unprecedented” increase in inflation, in addition to a higher than expected pay offer to teachers. This year teachers in Wales received a pay increase, which was higher than the council had budgeted for.

Children’s out-of-area placements and emergency placements have seen overspends of £1 million and £1.9 million respectively.
Cabinet member for social services, Cllr Stephen Marshall, said officers are working hard to “reduce this where possible”.

Additionally, tackling the issue of homelessness has resulted in an overspend of £2.9 million. Cllr Mudd, who represents Malpas, said this was due to a large number of individuals and households living in temporary accommodation.
She added that bed and breakfasts are more costly than “traditional accommodation”.

The review did reveal underspends in some areas, such as free school meals, which did not have as much uptake as expected and resulted in a £1 million underspend.

Cabinet member for organisational transformation, Cllr Dimitri Batrouni, described the report presented to cabinet as “sobering”.

Cllr Batrouni, who represents Gaer, said: “We’re not helped by the UK Government. The mini-budget was a catastrophe and that’s not just a political point, by any standard it’s a catastrophe. The Financial Times – which last time I checked wasn’t a ‘lefty’, ‘wokey’, liberal newspaper, have criticised the budget.”

He added: “It’s councils like us that have to pick up the consequences of the idiotic – and it’s a harsh word, idiotic – decisions.”

Cllr Batrouni concluded by saying: “As councils struggle to deliver the services, it’s on their heads.”

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