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Council releases more Budget info

Created on 27/10/2016 @ 09:09
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Further to last week’s announcement by Welsh Government on the allocation of funding to County Councils in Wales, which saw Powys receive a cut in funding for 2017/18 of 0.5% in cash terms (£1.5 cut in real terms), the Council has released further information on the details of the settlement.

Funding is allocated according to a formula that contains various criteria. Following vigorous and successful campaigning for a change to the formula to reflect the additional cost of providing services in rural areas, this resulted in a change to the formula and this change is being phased in by the Minister over two years.

As a result, Powys will benefit from additional funding in this respect of £1.5m in 2017/18 and will receive a similar additional amount for 18/19. However, despite this additional funding, the council still needed the benefit of a ‘floor’ arrangement and, along with three other Councils, received the poorest settlement in Wales yet again.

It is clear that Powys funding was hit hard by the 2.9% drop in Secondary School pupil numbers, the 1.8% fall in the overall population in Powys, a lower amount of claimants for Free School Meals (-2.8% in primary and -2.4% in secondary) and an overall large drop in the number of benefit claimants in Powys of 10.8%.

Cllr. Wynne Jones, Portfolio Holder for Finance said: “It is disappointing that despite being successful over a number of years in getting the formula changed to reflect additional cost of services in rural areas, we have still ended up needing rescuing by the ‘floor’ arrangement and still be have the poorest settlement.

“It is clear we have been hit hard by other factors in the formula, the largest of which is the drop in the number of secondary school pupils.

“We have also now found out that the Single Waste Grant, which sits outside the main funding settlement and is to support the recycling programme, has been cut by 6.7% which is another £240k of funding lost, whilst at same time the recycling targets remain.

“The settlement is however better than the 4% cut that has been costed into the three-year financial plan, but the Council also has to meet significant cost pressures such as an anticipated increase in inflation to 3% by end of 2017, further increases in the cost of the Living Wage, increases in the number older people, and a significant increase in the employers pension contribution following the tri-annual pension review.

“The Minister for Finance at WG, Mark Drakeford has stated that Councils should not begin to think that this slightly better settlement for 17/18 signals the end of the austerity cuts, as there are several more years of increasingly tough budgets still to come.

“The Cabinet will now hold three budget meetings in the next couple of weeks, to consider where this settlement leaves the Council and the forward financial plan. They will decide on any adjustments needed to the current three-year plan and duly add year 2019/20 to ensure that the Council is planning at least three years ahead. Draft proposals will then be put before all Members of Council at a budget seminar on November 23.”


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