Consultation opens on city council budget plans

CITY residents are being urged to have their say on Swansea Council’s budget priorities for the year ahead.

Swansea Council’s Cabinet has agreed to go out to public consultation on an ambitious programme that will see £22m of new investment going into roads, street cleaning, littering, environmental improvements as well as major cash injections for schools, social care for the elderly and support for vulnerable children.

In the wake of the pandemic demand for social care is continuing to rise and the council is spending more supporting measures to tackle poverty and issues like domestic abuse.

According to the consultation which starts today and ends on February 15, £60m of extra investment in services is proposed in services that touch the lives of local residents every day is coming over the next four years.

Although the Council is getting extra funding in the next financial year, £8.3m of efficiency and service modernisation savings have also been identified to help further offset rising demand for social care services, inflation and other costs.

No redundancies are expected this year thanks to efforts made by the council to protect and invest jobs and services.

The council’s continuing investment in new and better school facilities across Swansea – already worth £150m – is also expected to continue with Welsh Government support.

The commitment to ensure the costs of the major city developments remain fully funded and do not fall to residents are maintained, with zero cost this year or for at least the next five years.

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said: “The increase in funding from Welsh Government at this time is very welcome and much-needed. It means we will be able to tackle some of the issues created by years of UK government austerity.” 

Cllr Stewart said: “The Welsh Government has estimated that even with the increase in funding this year, all local authorities will still need a contribution from the council tax. In England the U.K. government are proposing councils in England increase council tax by bigger levels than have been allowed for many years.

“However in Swansea due to strict financial management of resources we aim to be able to set a level of council tax which is fair but also reflective of the additional pressures residents and families will be under following the pandemic

“We will ensure we only raise money where there is a needed for further investment in community priorities that affect our lives every day as well and every penny will go directly to education, school social care, child-care or community priorities.”

He added: “Next year we will be investing the equivalent of £4,000 for every family in Swansea, which represents record investment in the services that people rely on every day.

“We will also be bringing forward a comprehensive programme of support to help the local economy recover, support and retain jobs, create opportunities and help businesses grow and reduce poverty in our communities.

 “The council has become smarter, leaner and more efficient in recent years. We have reduced the average cost of borrowing, back-office spending, modernised services and cut red tape and that has helped slash the cost of what we do by millions of pounds. By radically changing the way we work we have achieved savings of more than £70m in the last five years alone.”

Consultation feedback will be taken into account by Cabinet at its meeting on February 18 ahead of a finalised budget being offered to Full Council on March 4.

To participate in the budget consultation go to www.swansea.gov.uk/budgetsurvey 

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