Monmouthshire faces council tax hike to bridge £23m gap
2:55pm Wednesday 4th September 2013 in Monmouthshire news
MONMOUTHSHIRE council will have to make cuts to deal with a predicted £23 million gap between expenditure and resources over the next four years.
The medium term financial plan burden, due to be discussed at today's Cabinet meeting, will squeeze services.
A funding gap of £9m is predicted next year, which could mean a 7 per cent reduction in funding across all council departments.
Schools and social services budgets could be hit hard, with 11per cent and 19 per cent cuts respectively.
Monmouthshire council is planning to yet again redesign its services, including stopping or closing some.
In its latest budget, the council said it would not cut frontline services, with money saved by halving the number of desks and buildings being used by council staff and reassigning qualified staff to do jobs currently done by outside agencies.
It is not clear yet which will be impacted in the latest round of cuts.
However council tax, which has not been increased for several years, may be set for a 3 per cent rise.
Residents in a band D property may have to pay £30.11extra per year taking the charge to £1,033.80.
To plug funding gaps, councils can make cuts, choose to put up council tax, use their reserves or try to generate more income.
In March, it was said it is using £1.7 million from its reserves to deal with current pressures and not cutting services.
But in light of a bigger future challenge by 2017/18, Monmouthshire council has to tighten its purse strings further.
"Setting the new path for the council with a much reduced and further reducing resource base is needed now. This is not going to be an easy task and will involve difficult decisions. The work required needs to involve members and the community as early in the process as possible," the latest financial plan reads.
Added pressures on money include redesigning services to cope with an ageing population and the treasury impact of the 21st century schools capital programme.
Final proposals will be presented to cabinet in mid February after consultation and the budget will go to council at the end of that month.
Monmouthshire's situation mirrors that of Newport council, with officers tackling possible budget cuts of £34 million by 2017.
Its local authority is looking at fewer staff, buildings and services.
Monmouthshire council has already made some savings by cutting 42 staff in 13 schools.
Welsh councils up and down the country are facing cuts from Welsh Government funding as the UK Government cuts back.
In July, Monmouthshire council leader Peter Fox warned that in order to protect essential education and social services, other parts of the council may lose 20 to 50 percent of their present resources over the period of the medium term financial plan.
He said: “We have a genuinely unprecedented challenge to public service finance in Wales. England has borne the brunt of this but now our time has come.”
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