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Flintshire Council needs to make £14m in savings for next year’s budget

FLINTSHIRE Council is going to have to find £14m in savings ahead of setting next year’s budget.

The authority’s corporate resources scrutiny committee meets on Thursday to receive a medium term and financial strategy budget report for 2024/25.

It is anticipated that £14m will need to be found to set a balanced budget, but according to a report to councillors it is too early to make a prediction about the level council tax will be set at for next year.

One area the council is having to increase spending is the homelessness service with a rise in people presenting for support, leading to a predicted overspend of £2.4m this year.

As in neighbouring Wrexham, potential pay increases for staff such as teachers and the increasing costs of social care present a challenge.

The authority could also have to pay a six-figure fine for missing Welsh Government recycling targets.

Flintshire Council leaders already know the authority will receive a 3.1 per cent increase in its annual settlement from the Welsh Government, but they may have to push for more funding from Cardiff.

A report authored by the council’s chief finance officer Gary Ferguson and chief executive Neil Cockerton outlines the situation.

It states: “The council clearly has a major budget challenge for the financial year 2024/25 if there is no movement in the indicative uplift in the settlement of 3.1 per cent from Welsh Government.

“This is significantly below the level required to meet current service demand and inflationary impacts – most of which are outside of the council’s control.

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“We will continue to make representations for a better settlement alongside all Welsh councils through the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), although it does appear clear that Welsh Government also have a challenging budget situation which they are grappling with, and which means that an improved increased settlement figure cannot be assumed.”

The report adds: “At this stage the amount remaining to be found to reach a legal and balanced budget is £14.042m and the council will need to urgently consider further cost reductions of significant scale to bridge that gap as a matter of priority.

“There is a need for a radical and strategic programme of service transformation to ensure that the council is developing cost reductions over the medium term in order to protect its ongoing future financial position and ensure it is further prepared for inevitable future budget challenges.”

Cost pressures and cost reductions identified so far will now be considered in scrutiny committees with a second budget workshop scheduled on October 5 and open to all councillors.

Regular updates will be provided to members throughout the budget process.

Flintshire Council’s corporate resources and governance scrutiny committee meets to discuss the report on Thursday (September 14).
It will then be discussed by the council’s cabinet the following Tuesday (September 19).