NEATH Port Talbot council have said they anticipate being hit with a further £48 million worth of budget pressures over the next four years at the authority’s monthly cabinet meeting.
The discussions, which focused on the council’s short and medium-term financial outlook, highlighted how the 2024/25 budget was likely to be “a challenging exercise” with even greater difficulties expected over the next four years.
At the meeting members heard how a number of areas in the report were highlighted for review ahead of the budget strategy, with ideas such as a reviewing the council’s accommodation portfolio, reducing energy consumption, and the re-modelling of statutory services included.
Chief executive of Neath Port Talbot Council Karen Jones said the purpose of the report was to set the scene for councillors ahead of the budget-setting process, adding that the overall picture showed while their demands for services were increasing, their money was reducing.
She said: “As you know every year we have a series of member seminars, as we get in to the budget process to take members through the detail of the assumptions that we are making when we are building the budget up.
“Unfortunately over many years now we always end up with a budget gap so we’re looking then at strategies to close the gap, and that usually comprises of ways in which we can raise new income or ways in which we can reduce expenditure to get to a position where we’ve got a balanced budget position.”
The report highlighted a number of pressure areas anticipated for the coming years, which included an increase in the need for both children’s and adults social services, home to school transport, homelesness and environmental services.
It also listed a number of external factors that had impacted the budget such as additional workload demands caused by the cost-of-living crisis, the legacy of the Covid pandemic, as well as the general impact of inflation.
The discussions came before the council’s quarterly report which discussed their financial position as of June 2023, with an overspend of £2.867 million currently being reported. Among others, areas of overspend included a £488k overspend in home to school transport, along with a £1m overspend on housing advice/supported tenancies.
The report read: “The overall budget position as at June 2023 is a £2.867m overspend. As the financial year progresses, services will need to continually review expenditure and income in their areas to mitigate the impact of the overall budget overspend.”