BRIDGEND County Borough Council is proposing to increase a number of charges and fees in order to save millions of pounds this year.
The proposals, published earlier this week ahead of a monthly cabinet meeting includes plans to increase charges for garden waste collections and bereavement services, as well as increasing the cost of school dinners.
They are part of the council’s 2024-25 budget plan that is expected to be sent out for scrutiny and public consultation on January 16. Like other councils right across the UK, Bridgend is getting ready to face another difficult year, with pay pressures, inflation, and an increased demand on services leaving it to deal with budget reductions anticipated to be worth around £16 million.
It has even led council leader Huw David to describe it as the most challenging financial situation the local authority has ever seen, with a number of difficult decisions now having to be made.
While it is important to note that these draft proposals are subject to change, and will be debated by members at scrutiny meetings before a final decision is made in February – here are some of the charges Bridgend Council is looking at bringing in and how much they could go up by.
While nothing is set in stone, proposals from the council’s draft budget for 2024-25 say there could be an increase in council tax of 9.5%.
Reports say while this is higher than anticipated, it could be required to “enable the council to meet the considerable financial challenges that it faces both currently and going forward.”
The proposed 9.5% increase comes after the announcement of a 3% increase in funding for Bridgend from the Welsh Government as part of the provisional local government settlement this year. However, the report adds that while will this represents an overall increase to the budget from last year, the figure is still less than inflation.
With school meals in Bridgend currently described as one of the lowest priced in Wales, an increase in the cost of school meals by 30p is proposed within the budget for the next financial year. It is however noted that the “saving is limited due to the roll out of the universal primary free school meals.”
As part of the 2024-25 proposals there could also be an increase in the cost of garden waste subscriptions moving forward. This rise would see the subscription cost go up from £46 per household or £42 for pensioners, to £50 per household and £45 for pensioners.
There could also be an uplift in bulky waste charges from £25 for 3 items to £30.
Bereavement services and registrars
Other recommendations in the draft budget include an increase in fees on bereavement services, with things such as burial charges potentially going up by as much as 20% in the coming year. The authority says it could also look to increase income from fees for registrars’ ceremonies such as marriages and other ceremonies by as much as 15%.
While no specifics have been given, the proposals also note that savings could be made with a review of the operating costs of leisure facilities across the county borough, along with the possibility to “waive protections on concessionary pricing and discounted rates for the more vulnerable
in leisure settings.” There could also be a review of Porthcawl Marina’s berthing fees as well as charging the public full price for pest control services.