Monmouthshire County Council launched its draft budget proposals for 2022-2023 on Wednesday January 19. The council faces £10.41m of unavoidable service pressures and £4.96m of pay pressures that continue to bear heavily on the council’s finances.
Councillor Richard John, Leader of Monmouthshire County Council said: “In this budget we’re determined to do all we can to support our communities in recovering from the pandemic and protect and enhance the services we know our residents rely on.
“Despite the impact and consequences of the pandemic this proposed budget sees a continuation of our preparedness to protect and enhance the services we know our residents rely on. This is a budget that delivers on our core priorities. Offering children the best possible start in life with more money for schools. Helping our older residents retain their independence, with better pay for care workers. Protecting our leisure centres, recognising their important role in mental and physical wellbeing. Working towards a low carbon Monmouthshire and with more investment in roads, cycle routes and footpaths and improved broadband, a better connected county. By protecting bus routes and with the continued rollout of 20mph zones in our towns and villages. It’s also a budget that looks to the future and positions the council to take on some of the biggest challenges facing our county and society more generally.”
• We will continue to be at the forefront of the transition to net zero carbon but this requires investment, as does our commitment to eradicate homelessness in the county.
• We will focus on narrowing health inequalities that have become increasingly evident during the pandemic.
• We are committed to social care reform. Provision across Wales and the UK is fractured. Care does not have the professional standing that it deserves and care as a career needs to be valued much more highly.
• We will ensure that schools are resourced to help children whose learning has been disrupted by the pandemic, to be able to make up for lost time, with more investment in mental health and wellbeing support and we’ll continue our multi-million pound school investment programme.
• We will increase the emphasis of our work to help people protect and manage their own mental health and well-being.
Councillor Phil Murphy, Cabinet Member for Resources said: “We are pleased that Welsh Government has acknowledged the challenges faced by local authorities in Wales for a second successive year. However, whilst the council has received an above average increase in its revenue settlement – 11.2 per cent, against an average increase of 9.4 per cent across Wales, Monmouthshire still receives the least funding per head of population (£1,176), £435 per head below the Welsh average, which means Monmouthshire is continuing to be more reliant on council tax income to meet the needs of its communities. It is with a heavy heart that we are having to consider in these draft proposals an increase in council tax of 3.95 per cent. The council tax reduction scheme, which offers mitigation for those on low incomes and those in receipt of benefits, will still be in place. Single person households are also eligible for a 25 per cent reduction on council tax. We have limited any increases to fees and charges where possible but inflationary increases in charges for domiciliary and residential care are also means tested and capped to again mitigate the impact of those on the lowest incomes.
“The council continues to lead by example in committing to paying its lowest paid staff in line with the Real Living Wage set by the Living Wage Foundation and for 2022/23 is extending this through to all of our commissioned care settings and in light of the equal right of paid care workers.” said Councillor Murphy.
Residents are invited to register for a special budget livestream that will take place at 6.30pm on Thursday January 27. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the face-to-face budget engagement that would normally take place would not be appropriate at this time, so the process is again moving online. Register to take part via the council’s website and an email will be sent with a link to join the event and where you can pre-submit your questions. For those unable to join the livestream, the session will be uploaded to the website to watch after the event.
As part of the consultation process, which is open until noon on February 16, 2021, residents are also being asked to share their thoughts a feedback survey on the budget proposals, which can be found alongside all the proposals at www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/budget-2022-2023.
“These are draft proposals and we want to know your views. So please visit our website and tell us what you think,” added Cllr. John.
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