Consultation for the 2022/23 Draft Budget Strategy now underway
Written by Gavin on 31st January 2022
Cabinet has agreed to progress the Draft Budget Strategy for 2022/23 having considered the detailed proposals on Thursday – and residents can now have their say in a consultation exercise running until February 11.
At their meeting on Thursday, January 27, Cabinet considered a report outlining the proposals for next year’s budget, which were put forward following a favourable Local Government Settlement from Welsh Government. Announced in December 2021, the provisional settlement indicates that Rhondda Cynon Taf will receive an 8.4% increase in funding for 2022/23.
This is at a higher level than the range modelled and reported by the Council in early autumn, recognising many additional cost pressures which the Council is facing – and the Draft Budget Strategy includes an extra £11.2m for the schools’ budget, the lowest-ever Council Tax increase for the County Borough, and increasing the pay for our staff and commissioned social care providers to a level above the Real Living Wage.
On Thursday, Cabinet Members agreed to progress the proposals, along with a recommended timetable to set the 2022/23 revenue budget. This includes a second phase of consultation running from Friday, January 28, to Friday, February 11, details of which can be found on the Let’s Talk website.
Residents can take part via a survey, quick polls and an ‘ideas’ section on the website – while they can also access key information about the Draft Budget Strategy, Easy Read versions of the consultation materials, and a video. The consultation will also target key groups including younger and older people.
Agreed by Cabinet Members on Thursday, the Draft Budget Strategy which is now being consulted upon includes a number of key features, such as:
- Protection of Council services – with no service cuts once again, which has been the case since 2017.
- A Council Tax increase of 1% – the best position for many years, which is below the 2.65% increase consulted upon and is once again likely to be one of the lowest rises across Wales.
- A minimum rate of pay above the Real Living Wage – increasing this level to £10 per hour from April 1, 2022, applying to the Council’s own staff plus commissioned social care staff.
- An additional £11.2m for the schools’ budget – representing a 6.8% increase and ensuring our schools are fully-funded for next year.
- An additional £15m for Social Services (including community services) – this includes additional resources to address increasing demands, through further developing the workforce, supporting on-going remodelling and integration of services, and helping prevent children from becoming looked after.
- Further efficiency savings of £4.9m – continuing to make budget savings without adversely affecting frontline service provision.
- An additional £100,000 for the Non-Domestic Rate Local Relief Scheme – increasing the budget for the scheme to £300,000, providing much-needed support to local businesses.
- An additional £500,000 to tackle Climate Change – alongside existing resources, this will further help work in key areas such as electric vehicle charging, energy generation projects, and biodiversity and Active Travel schemes.
- An additional £200,000 for Public Health and Protection Services – these services play a key role in the wellbeing of residents, communities and businesses.
- A freeze on charges – for Leisure for Life, Meals on Wheels/Day Centre meals, school meals, car park charges, playing field fees, 3G sports pitch hire, Taxi Licenses and Rhondda Heritage Park/Lido Ponty.
- Keeping general fees and charges increases below the rate of inflation – the general increase in fees and charges will be set at 2.5%, lower than the current rate of inflation of 5.4%, with the extra costs absorbed by the Council.
- Funding for Investment of £1m – to further progress the Council’s ambitious investment programme and deliver on its key priorities.
- An additional £75,000 for Detached Youth Support.
Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said: “I’m pleased that Cabinet Members have agreed to progress the Draft Budget Strategy for 2022/23, and that members of the public can now formally have their say on what is being proposed in Phase two of the budget consultation process.
“The provisional settlement from Welsh Government presented a favourable position to us, with an 8.4% budget increase for Rhondda Cynon Taf next year. This reflects the funding pressures continuing to be felt across Local Government, and also recognises the vital role Local Authorities continue to play to protect residents in the pandemic. It will allow us to look at putting much-needed investment back into vital services that support our communities.
“Key features of the Draft Budget Strategy agreed by Cabinet on Thursday include raising the minimum rate of pay to a level above the Real Living Wage – applying to Council staff and to social care staff employed by our commissioned service providers. A proposed Council Tax increase of 1% would also be the lowest since Rhondda Cynon Taf was formed, and likely to be one of the lowest across Wales once again next year. The favourable settlement allowed us to remodel the level from a 2.65% rise, which was initially consulted upon.
“The proposals also contain additional funding for key priorities – £11.2m across our schools, £15m for Social Services (including community services), £500,000 to tackle Climate Change, £100,000 for the Non-Domestic Rate Local Relief Scheme, £200,000 for Public Health, £1m Funding for Investment and £75,000 for Youth Support. This has also been achieved while absorbing some of the costs of the general Fees and Charges rise, as well as identifying a further £4.9m of efficiency savings for next year – bringing the total saved through efficiencies to approximately £100m over the past 10 years.
“Cabinet also agreed that Phase Two of this year’s budget consultation process will start on January 28 and run to February 11. This process is once again being hosted by our Let’s Talk engagement website, and residents can now formally have their say on the proposals. I’d urge interested residents to take part, with all responses to be considered as part of the final decision making by Cabinet and full Council – in order to set the budget for 2022/23 during early March this year.”