Cabinet has agreed to recommend its draft Budget Strategy for 2020/21 to Full Council following a second phase of consultation. It also reflects the immediate support which has been provided to support communities affected by Storm Dennis.
At their meeting on Thursday, February 20, Cabinet Members agreed for the draft Budget Strategy to be considered by Full Council on March 4, 2020, and represents a balanced budget for the 2020/21 financial year.
Following the devastating impact of Storm Dennis, the Council Leader announced on Monday that £1m will be provided as an urgent allocation to support local people’s immediate recovery requirements. The draft Budget Strategy agreed by Cabinet on Thursday reflects this new position, with £1m allocated from the Council’s General Reserves. Following the meeting, the Council has announced an additional £500,000 will be released, bringing the total allocation for immediate flood recovery to £1.5m.
The draft Budget Strategy is based on the provisional Local Government Settlement’s 4.5% funding increase for Rhondda Cynon Taf in 2020/21.
The Strategy includes an extra £12.7m for schools and £9.3m additional funding for Community and Children’s Services (including social care) – as well as significant extra funding for Youth Engagement, tackling poverty and helping community groups open paddling pools in summer. It delivers £6m efficiency savings and proposes a 2.85% council tax rise, which is lower than consulted upon and likely to be one of the lowest rises in Wales next year.
A first phase of consultation was held during November and December 2019 – and Cabinet agreed for a second phase to be held from January 24 to February 7. It included an online survey, youth events in schools and three public ‘drop-in’ events held in Mountain Ash, Ystrad Rhondda and Pontypridd.
Across the two phases of consultation more than 4,000 people engaged with the process. During Phase 2, around 78% of participants felt the approach to Council Tax was reasonable, while 92% agreed with the Education funding strategy, 87% agreed with the approach to efficiency savings and 88% agreed with the investment in Youth Engagement. A full summary of the consultation process is included as an Appendix to a report to Thursday’s Cabinet meeting.
In a separate agenda item during Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, Members agreed to a proposed approach to Fees and Charges for 2020/21, with many of the key elements summarised in the list below.
Councillor Andrew Morgan. Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said: “Earlier this week I announced the Council would release £1m to help local communities following the severe impact of Storm Dennis – to be released from Council Reserves set aside for such emergency situations. This allocation was reflected in the draft Budget agreed by Cabinet on Thursday. Since then, an additional £500,000 has been released by the Council.
“The draft Budget Strategy contains no cuts to services and delivers important extra funding for priorities such as Education, Community and Children’s Services, and Youth Engagement. It puts forward a 2.85% Council Tax rise which is lower than initially consulted upon, with the majority of participants in Phase 2 of the consultation agreeing it is a reasonable approach – particularly based on the investment and service protection achieved in the wider Budget.
“Cabinet has now recommended to Full Council, at their meeting in early March 2020, that the draft Budget Strategy for 2020/21 is implemented.”
Key elements of the draft Budget for 2020/21 – including Fees and Charges – agreed upon by Cabinet Members on Thursday, include:
- A 2.85% Council Tax rise, likely to be one of the lowest in Wales next year.
- £6m efficiency savings, bringing the total to £95m over 10 years.
- An increase in the Schools Budget of £12.7m (or 8.5%).
- An additional £250,000 (a 13% increase) funding for Youth Engagement.
- £50,000 funding to help local groups open paddling pools in the summer.
- £105,000 to support the Muni Arts Centre’s reopening.
- Freeze on fees and charges for Leisure for Life, Car Parking and Playing Field fees for sports clubs.
- Increase in Meals on Wheels/Day Centre Meals by 10p per meal.
- Increase on School Meals by 5p per meal and then no further increase for two years.
- Increase of adult entrance to Lido Ponty by 50p to £2.50, with children under the age of 16 continuing to benefit from free entry.
- An increase of £9.3m for Community and Children’s Services, including social care.
Posted on Friday 21st February 2020