Cabinet report highlights pressures on key local services
A report that will be presented to Gwynedd’s Cabinet on 16 October reviewing the Council’s spending after five months of the 2018/19 financial year shows that three departmental budgets are coming under considerable pressure.
Whilst the report notes that Gwynedd Council’s overall spending for the year remains within budget, spending on Children’s Services is projected to be £1 million greater than the allocated budget over the current year; with spending on Education projected to be £0.75 million higher than originally projected. Spending on Highways and Municipal Services is projected to be £0.6m higher for the year due to higher road repair costs following the severe winter, together with higher operational costs of waste collection and disposal. These projected overspends are compensated by underspends in other areas which means that overall, the Council remains projected to stay within its overall budget for the year.
The report by the Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Peredur Jenkins, recommends that the Cabinet Members for the relevant services report back to him with their plans to reduce the projected overspends insofar as that is possible.
He said: “We have to accept that overspends in these areas are largely the result of more children needing to be cared for and higher than forecast costs in transporting children to school. At the same time, we must we must make sure that we closely scrutinise every aspect of our spending in these areas to ensure that the additional spending incurred is actually unavoidable and that we are not missing any opportunities to minimise that additional spending.
“These projected overspends underline the dire position in which local authorities are being placed due to the financial starvation being imposed upon them by central government, coupled with the increasing costs of delivering local services.
“I know that my fellow Cabinet Members are already working with the Heads of Department to look at ways of reducing the projected overspends, and it is important that I have the opportunity to subject those plans to detailed scrutiny to ensure that we are not missing any possible cost reduction opportunities.”
Councillor Dilwyn Morgan, thee Cabinet Member for Children’s Services added: “Children’s services across the country are coming under unprecedented financial pressures. Whilst this is an extremely worrying position, we in Gwynedd are sadly no different in this regard.
“At the start of the financial year, we based our budget on the number of children we knew the Council would need to care for during 2018/19 but sadly, we have seen an increase in those numbers during the first five months.
“Regardless of the cost, the safety of our children is our main priority as a Council. However, the position we find ourselves in lays bare the falsehood that local government can carry indefinitely without the additional resources it needs.
“A failure to adequately fund local government will mean that these situations will become more prevalent and will unavoidably affect people’s lives.”