15 February 2023
Despite unprecedented economic conditions, Powys County Council will be asked to consider a balanced budget next week with investment for key services including schools.
A meeting of the Full Council will be asked to approve spending plans of more than £326 million for 2023-2024 financed by a combination of funding from the Welsh Government and a below inflation increase in Council tax, when it meets next Thursday (February 23).
Cabinet Member for Finance and Transformation, Councillor David Thomas said: “A better than anticipated local government settlement has allowed the council to keep the council tax increase to a minimum despite unprecedent financial pressures.
“The Cabinet proposes a below inflation council tax increase of 3.8 per cent in its draft budget, the final figure will move to five per cent to fund an increased Fire Authority levy.
“Despite the increased funding it has been the most difficult budget-setting process the county council has ever experienced. The impact of high inflation, increased demand for social care, staff pay and funding post-Covid-19 recovery, have combined to create an extremely difficult position.
“Our priority throughout has been to protect services, particularly those that support people at this most difficult of times, ensuring our schools receive all the additional funding provided by Welsh Government, resulting in an additional £5.6m investment in education. We have also provided an extra £500,000 for energy efficiency schemes in schools.
“Every budget includes a mix of essential growth to fund services and reductions, this year despite an overall increase in our budget we have identified more than £16m in reductions by delivering services more efficiently or at reduced cost.
“By taking early action to reduce Council spending through tighter financial controls, moving staff to main offices to reduce costs and lowering temperatures in corporate buildings, we have achieved our goals without impacting frontline services.
“We are continuing work to convert streetlights to more efficient LED lights and reducing staff travelling through digital ways of working, reducing costs and cutting the council’s carbon footprint. Our refuse and recycling systems remain at high levels, surpassing the Welsh Government’s recycling target.
“However, the proposed Council Tax increase is needed to balance our budget and put us on a sound footing for the coming financial year. Proposing a below inflation rise will limit the impact on Powys residents, who like everyone else are feeling the impact of the cost-of-living crisis,” he added.
The budget will be considered by a meeting of full council on Thursday (February 23).