COUNCIL TAX RESOLUTION and REVENUE AND CAPITAL BUDGETS FOR 2023/24
- Meeting of Extraordinary Meeting - Budget, County Council, Thursday, 2nd March, 2023 10.00 am (Item 2.)
The Cabinet Member for Resources presented the report which included recommendations designed to comply with Statutory Provisions. The recommended resolutions also drew together the Council Tax implications of precepts proposed by the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent and Town and Community Councils, thereby enabling the County Council to establish its headline Council Tax levels at the various property bands within each Town or Community area.
We heard of the £26m predicted shortfall in our budget and cost pressures were highlighted.
Opposition Members were unable to support the budget proposals and the following comments were made:
· Both families and businesses are in financial difficulty and many of the proposals would add to this difficulty.
· Officers need to be clear on the priorities of the administration.
· A driving principle must be that we do all that we can to protect frontline and community services where they are most needed.
· It was proposed that the administration look at putting local community services on a sustainable pathway by developing a plan for some community asset transfers.
· The development of charitable foundations could be a positive way forward way for Gwent Music and the wider arts.
· It would be a good time to encourage Community Councils to take matters more into their own hands by considering the levels of precepts.
The Cabinet Member for Inclusive and Active Communities stated that the proposals set out a path to firmer ground, adding that there would be a review of assets in the coming months which will aim to reduce running costs and climate impact. She also explained how they were reconfiguring services to support homeless people at a time of rising homelessness.
The Cabinet Member for Climate Change and the Environment referred to decarbonisation and how it remains at the core of the budget, explaining that it cuts across every service and has multiple co-benefits in terms of cost savings, health, and efficiency.
The Cabinet Member for Education commended the quality of the work of officers and was proud of what had been achieved, with little additional money. He stated that under the previous Conservative administration, key stage 4 free school meals pupils were performing the worst in Wales, but they were now changing the way they operate. He referred to the Educational Psychology Service who were now going beyond individual casework and seeking to address the reasons why children meet a crisis point. He asked the opposition to note the tremendous strides taken across schools so that they were meeting individual needs.
The Cabinet Member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Accessible Health Services referred to the challenges within his budget area and reminded Members of their responsibility to ‘looked after children’ in their role as corporate parents.
The Leader of the opposition highlighted areas of concern within the proposals stating disappointment in the increase in council tax, being higher than similarly rural neighbouring authorities. He considered that the administration lacked a sense of purpose and that earlier action could have stemmed the rise and the resulting call on reserves.
Further frustrations included:
· Disappointment that Tudor Street was in the list of assets to be sold given that assurances had been given that this was not the case.
· A lack of addressing the needs of vulnerable adults.
· A lack of investment into Highways.
· The issues regarding litter.
· Engagement sessions had been disappointing.
Upon being put to a vote the recommendations as set out in the report were rejected.
- Final Version 20230203 Council - Council Tax Resolution and Budget report 2023-24, item 2. PDF 597 KB