A MULTI-MILLION pounds, post-pandemic recovery budget for Cardiff – designed to help create new jobs, deliver new council homes, build better schools and safeguard vital public services – will go to the city’s full council for approval in March.
Cardiff Council’s Cabinet is bringing forward proposals that would see millions spent helping to get the city up and running again as it looks to recover from the effects of the pandemic.
The proposals are part of the 2021/22 budget report which will go to Cabinet for approval on Thursday, February 25. Once agreed, Full Council will vote on the budget at a meeting on March 4.
Cardiff Council Leader, Cllr Huw Thomas, said:
“This will be one of the most important budgets this council has set. COVID-19 has affected each and every one of us and it will affect our futures for many years to come. That said, our city has done a remarkable job, pulling together, to try to halt the spread of the virus. Right now we are battling the second wave, but hope is in sight as the vaccination programme continues to roll out. With that in mind, we are looking to the future, planning how we recover from the pandemic and how we prepare our city for the challenges ahead.
“This council must be at the forefront of getting Cardiff back up and running. We will do everything in our power to create much-needed jobs, whilst building better schools and new council homes for those in most need. We also want to help reinvigorate the city’s cultural offering while building a greener and cleaner Cardiff – a city fit for the future – which has much to look forward to in a post-pandemic world, and we need to do this while safeguarding our public services which have played such a vital role supporting our residents throughout the pandemic.”
Among the proposals are significant five-year spending plans to help Cardiff make a successful recovery from the pandemic, including:
£378m investment in social housing including new council homes; £251m on new school builds; £234m in economic development initiatives, including the new arena, the international sports village and the Atlantic Wharf redevelopment; £61m to develop cycle routes and improve transport infrastructure and active travel routes; £54.7m investment in existing schools infrastructure; £41.8m for disabled adaptations to help people continue to live in their own homes and £41m investment in highway infrastructure.
The Council will also provide support for its One Planet strategy – tackling climate change, making Cardiff a greener and cleaner place to live. Including some of the schemes above, the capital programme includes over £85m investment for the strategy.
Cabinet member of Finance, Cllr Chris Weaver, said:
“This council has always had high ambitions for our city. We always want the best for our residents and we are determined to ensure Cardiff makes a quick recovery from the effects of the pandemic.
“This will involve bringing together and supporting a broad range of measures designed to help renew Cardiff, delivering an economic landscape where jobs can be created as we recover after this incredibly difficult year. We believe our budget proposals set a clear route out of the pandemic which can benefit everyone who lives here.
“This year Cardiff has received a better-than-expected 3.8% increase in funding from the Welsh Government. This represents an additional £18m in cash terms. However, despite this very welcome uplift, it’s still not enough to pay for the vital public services we deliver. In fact it leaves a £15.594m budget gap in our finances, a gap we will have to find a way to bridge if we are to continue delivering the services which have proven so valuable to residents over the past year. We also have to bridge this gap at a time when we must do everything in our power to support our residents and economy after COVID.”
The Council’s Cabinet proposes bridging the £15.594m funding gap in two ways by realising £10.244m in efficiency savings and raising council tax by 3.5% raising £5.35m (equivalent to 85p a week on a Band D home);
Cllr Weaver added:
“Most of the money the council receives (72%) comes via grants from the Welsh Government. The remaining 28% comes from Council Tax. The majority of our budget – around two-thirds of 66% is spent on running schools and social services. Without council tax, many of the other important services we deliver, services which have proven so valuable throughout the pandemic could be lost or face severe cuts.
“I’m happy to say that we have been able to reduce our initial calculations down from a 4% increase in Council Tax to 3.5%. This will be among the lowest increases in Council Tax in Wales and amounts to 85p a week on a Band D property, less than £4 a month. Whilst the majority of bridging the gap we face comes from savings rather than this Council Tax rise, and I’m pleased it’s a lower rise than we believed we would have to propose, this will help us maintain the services our citizens have come to rely on as we plan for a better future post-pandemic. Anyone who is struggling to pay and is eligible will of course have the opportunity to access support through the Council Tax reduction scheme.
“The results of our Budget Consultation showed us that residents want this council to do what it can to lead the city’s economic recovery by supporting businesses and workers through the delivery of major regeneration schemes; they want us to invest in our schools, and to keep our communities safe. This budget puts all of those priorities front and centre.”