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Following publication of the 2020/21 provisional Local Government Settlement, Cabinet will next week consider budget plans which include an additional £12.7m school budget increase and what is likely to be one of the lowest council tax rises in Wales. 

The draft budget strategy includes a 2.85% council tax rise – below the level initially consulted upon. It also proposes an 8.5% increase for Schools, an additional £250,000 investment for Youth Engagement services, tackling poverty, and further funding support to help local groups to open paddling pools during the summer.

Key elements of the draft Budget for 2020/21 include:

  • A 2.85% Council Tax rise, likely to be 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 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.
  • 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.

Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said: “Cabinet will next week begin considering the specific details of 2020/21 budget strategy for further consultation and engagement.

“The Provisional Settlement, announced at the end of last year, provides a 4.5% budget increase for Rhondda Cynon Taf in the next financial year. As a result of this better-than-anticipated funding protection from the Welsh Government, these draft proposals include a proposed 2.85% council tax increase, lower than the level initially considered necessary as part of our plans – with every other Welsh Council set to implement a greater rise in 2020/21.

“In the recent public consultation, more than 80% of survey respondents said we should implement a 3% council tax rise to maintain current service levels – and the draft Budget achieves that at 2.85%.

“Our ambitious £6m target for efficiencies has also been met and is now included within the draft Budget – bringing the savings figure to around £95m over the past 10 years. That approach has maintained the strong financial position of this Authority through a decade of public sector funding austerity and has provided the opportunity during this period to invest in key priorities and protect frontline services.

“Our initial proposals include prioritising increases in schools funding, alongside focusing additional investment towards Youth Services and tackling poverty. More funding will be targeted towards helping local community groups open paddling pools during school the summer holidays and, if agreed, the Council would also freeze charges in Leisure for Life, Car Parking and Playing Field fees for sports clubs.”

On Thursday, January 23, an Officer report outlining the draft Budget will be considered by Cabinet. It is based on the provisional settlement by Welsh Government, announced on December 16, which outlines a 4.5% budget increase for Rhondda Cynon Taf next year. It also considers the feedback from an initial Budget consultation held by the Council from November 21 to December 16, 2019.

The consultation included 12 public ‘drop-in’ events held in local community venues, along with a survey, social media polls and targeted engagement with specific groups – including the Youth Forum, Older Persons Advisory Group and Disability Forum. Feedback from the Council’s Finance and Performance Scrutiny Committee has also been used as an important consideration.

In total, 305 survey responses were received, and 80% of those said services should be protected at their current level through a 3% council tax increase. In total, 78% agreed that the Council should fully-cover increased pay costs in schools. A full consultation report is included as an Appendix to the report.

Following on from next week’s Cabinet, there will be a further period of consultation focused on the draft budget strategy proposals.

Posted on Friday 17th January 2020

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