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Powys Cabinet approves budget amendments to create £500k for schools

AMENDMENTS to next year’s Powys County Council budget to create a £500,000 fund to help schools deal with energy costs have been approved by councillors.

The amendments to the draft budget are the result of discussions between the cabinet and the Independents for Powys group.

At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, February 14 councillors mulled over the suggestions of several scrutiny committees and the Finance Panel on the amendments.

These committee meetings that were still taking place on Monday afternoon and reports from them were only finalised on Tuesday morning

Cabinet members needed a 15 minute break to ensure that all the councillors had thoroughly read the documents.

Deputy council leader, Cllr Matthew Dorrance chaired the meeting due to the absence of council leader Cllr James Gibson-Watt.

Cllr Matthew Dorrance

Cllr Dorrance said: “It’s been an intense period for scrutiny with some moving situations in responding to budget amendments.”

“The amendments are positive and reinforces a commitment we made as a cabinet to work across the chamber with all groups and it’s been a positive thing to do as we align our resources to deliver our stronger fairer greener priorities.

Education portfolio holder, Cllr Pete Roberts said: “The conclusions of the Learning and Skills committee that the most appropriate use of the fund would be if it is targeted and used on energy saving measures before being considered for other uses.

“The committee are very much in line with what we were suggesting on how the money should be used.

Cabinet member for a safer Powys, Cllr Richard Church added: “This gives our services more resilience.”

Conservative group leader, Cllr Aled Davies said: “I’m unhappy about the process it’s all very rushed.

The draft budget will go on to be debated at a full council meeting on Thursday, February 23.

In January the cabinet endorsed a draft budget that will see the council tax increased by five per cent as well as a raft of savings, cuts and income generation measures designed to bridge a funding gap of £16.45 million.

To set-up the £500,000 fund money will be taken from several pots;

Help proposed to external care providers by raising the travelling expense allowance to 50 pence a mile won’t happen and the £22,000 saving this generates will go to the fund.

The one off payment of £287,000 to Freedom Leisure to help them with energy costs will be “redirected” to the fund.

An extra £191,000 will also be available – and this will come from the council’s vehicle and equipment replacement reserve.