Gwynedd Cabinet financial strategy report

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Dilwyn Williams, Gwynedd Council Chief Executive

On February 16, a report will be presented to the Gwynedd Council Cabinet which will include a series of proposed recommendations on which services the Council should cut to help bridge the significant funding shortfall it faces between now and March 2018.

 

Following the Cabinet meeting a list of finalised cut recommendations will be considered by all 75 Gwynedd councillors at the full Council meeting on March 3 at which they will agree on the Council’s financial strategy to be implemented from April 2016 onwards.

 

The Cabinet report follows the recent publication of the results of the Gwynedd Challenge public consultation in which residents and organisations were given the opportunity to have their say on 118 possible service cut options.

 

Gwynedd Council Leader, Councillor Dyfed Edwards said: “The Gwynedd Challenge was the most detailed and extensive public consultation we have ever carried out. As a result, we now have a detailed understanding of the priorities and concerns of residents across the county.

 

“Over the past few weeks, all 75 Gwynedd councillors have had an opportunity to carefully consider all the feedback received in a series of workshops. This evidence includes over 2,100 survey responses from the public and detailed submissions from a wide-range of groups and organisations.

 

“This valuable insight gives us as a Cabinet a sound foundation on which to base the recommendations which will guide councillors in the important and difficult decisions we will all have to make at the full Council in March.

 

“As well as listening to the general views of residents, we have carefully considered and acted upon the arguments presented by key groups.

 

“As a result, we are recommending that the Council takes steps to protect various services that provide important support for the Gwynedd business and arts communities as well as a number of services that have been identified as being extremely important for specific geographical areas of the county.

 

“None of us have entered public service in order to cut services, however the hand that we have been dealt by the government leaves us as councillors with no option. Given this, I feel that these recommendations provide the best possible solution under these circumstances as they will allow us to avoid having to implement the worst of the cut options.”

 

The Cabinet report recommends that members should, at the full Council meeting on 3 March, implement service cuts worth a total of £4,590,000 to help bridge a financial deficit of £5,507,000 with a recommendation that the remaining sum be delivered by increasing the cut to the roads budget to £850,000 and increasing Council Tax by 3.97% in 2016/17 and 2017/18. An increase of 3.97% would see a Band D household paying an additional 89p a week or £46.09 a year.

 

Councillor Dyfed Edwards said: “From the feedback received, it is evident that the priority for the public is for the Council to avoid cuts if at all possible. Almost half of the respondents to the public survey stated that they would prefer the Council to increase Council Tax by more than 3.5% if that meant that more of the services that they felt were important could be protected.

 

“National factors beyond our control have placed the Council in an unenviable position with deeper service cuts being the only realistic alternative to the course that is being recommended in the Cabinet report. Given this, we believe that a Council Tax increase of 3.97% would be more palatable than the only other alternative of deeper cuts to services.”

 

Dilwyn Williams, Gwynedd Council Chief Executive added: “In the Gwynedd Challenge public consultation, we explained to residents that we would be basing our strategy on delivering £34 million of efficiency savings with the remaining shortfall being bridged through a combination of service cuts and an increase in Council Tax.

 

“A slight improvement in our grant position means that we now need to bridge a funding deficit of £5.5 million as opposed to the £7 million we had originally anticipated.

 

“It should however be remembered that there is no sign of an end to the government’s strategy of cutting expenditure on public services. As a result, we will therefore have to redouble our efforts to work with local groups and external partners to find alternative ways of funding and running many of the services that the Cabinet report recommends protecting for the short-term.”

 

A copy of the report that will be considered by the Council Cabinet on February 16 can be viewed here: https://democracy.cyngor.gwynedd.gov.uk/ielistdocuments.aspx?cid=133&mid=1570&ver=4

 

The final decision on the Council Tax level for 2016/17 and the cuts that the Council will have to implement in order to balance its budget will be taken at the full Council meeting on  March 3.