WHY ARE WE HAVING TO REDUCE COSTS AND MAKE EFFICIENCY SAVINGS?
The amount of grant we receive from Welsh Government has been cut and we have the lowest Council Tax in Wales
Government grant and Council Tax is where most of the money for local services comes from.
Welsh Government determine how much Councils need to spend to provide their services.
Welsh Government assumes all Councils generate Council Tax income at an “average level” but in Pembrokeshire, we don’t! For 2018-19 the "average level" was £1,170.48 but our Band D Council Tax was £993.54.
Our neighbouring Council’s Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion are able to generate substantially more Council Tax income than Pembrokeshire due to higher tax rates.
The Council provides the same services as all other Councils in Wales at significantly less cost, to you, the Council Tax payer, which must make us the most efficient in Wales.
Workforce costs are rising
This is because of increases in national minimum and living wages, and significant increases in pay awards and employers contributions to teachers’ pensions.
An increase in the number of people needing our help
The number of older people in our population is increasing, which is increasing the demand on our adult social services.
Non-Workforce costs are rising
Inflation is increasing, as well as contractual costs, at more than the Bank of England’s 2% target.
WHAT HAVE WE ACHIEVED SO FAR?
Over the last five years we have already bridged a funding gap of £68.6m
The funding gap was bridged by a combination of £14.7m additional income from Council Tax increases, £52.6m in cost reductions/efficiencies, a £0.6m contribution from the Council Tax 2nd homes income (community element) and a £0.7m one-off contribution from reserves.
We have endeavoured to ensure that cost reductions/efficiencies have been made within the Council wherever possible, in order to minimise the impact on services to our customers, particularly those which impact upon the most vulnerable in our communities.
We introduced a Council Tax premium for second homes in 2017-18 and will be introducing a Council Tax premium for long-term empty properties in 2019-20
Since the introduction of the premium we have:
Agreed to progress with a target of 10 affordable homes each year, with Solva, Llangwm and Fishguard/Goodwick being identified as priority areas for building.
Established the Enhancing Pembrokeshire Grant fund, which provides resources to support local organisations to offset the impact of second homes within their communities.
HOW WILL COSTS BE REDUCED AND EFFICIENCY SAVINGS FOR 2019-20 BE MADE?
The proposed Council Budget Requirement for 2019-20 is £220.49m.
Cost reductions / efficiencies and additional income from a Council Tax increase are required to bridge the £19.6m funding gap for 2019-20.
A total of £15.5m cost reduction and efficiency savings have been identified.
Individual School Budgets and Children and Adults Social Care will receive no increase in their revenue budget for 2019-20, meaning that they will have to identify cost reductions and efficiency savings to meet all inflationary, demographic and other pressures.
All other Council services have been asked to identify cost reductions and efficiency savings of 8% (of their controllable net expenditure budget for 2019-20).
HOW WAS THE COUNCIL BUDGET FOR 2019-20 AGREED?
We ran a number of seminars for Council members and proposals were looked at in detail by all five of our Overview & Scrutiny Committees.
We also ran a public consultation from 17th December 2018 – 18th January 2019, in which over 500 people took part. Over 8,000 Facebook users also viewed the three Facebook Live sessions we held to publicise the consultation and to answer people’s questions.
Budget proposals, the consultation report and integrated impact assessment were considered by Cabinet at its meeting on 11th February. You can view documents here Cabinet Papers 11th February 2019
Full Council agreed the final budget at its meeting on 21st February.
You can view a webcast of the full Council meeting here Webcast Council meeting 21st February 2019