Council statement on Budget
Flintshire County Council’s Cabinet meets next week to consider options to set
a balanced budget for 2018/19 to recommend to Council.
Through a combination of being inventive in organising ourselves and our
services to save £79m savings over the past 10 years, reducing our office space
and our workforce and having great support from our communities in
accommodating change and taking on more responsibility for providing services
for themselves, we have been able to protect our front line services thus far.
Despite considerable change and cost-cutting over a series of annual budgets,
there still remains a budget gap of close to £6m for 2018/19 with few options
remaining. The scope for further service portfolio reductions for 2018/19 has
been exhausted. This position is accepted by the Overview and Scrutiny
Committees and Cabinet.
The Council can do little more at this stage and finds itself, along with every
other Council in Wales and England, in an unprecedented and increasingly
difficult situation given the continued austerity programme being pursued by
the UK Government.
The three specific requests made to Welsh Government for assistance with the
budget, in accordance with the previous Council resolution, have been made and
are under negotiation.
Beyond a financial intervention by Welsh Government the only remaining options
to balance the budget are Council Tax income and drawing upon reserves and
balances. These two options will be discussed at next week’s meeting.
The Council sets its budget in three stages and, at this third and final stage,
we have no option but to openly consider the use of reserves and balances to
part close the remaining budget gap and then to set a higher than traditional
level of Council Tax for 2019/20 both to balance the budget and provide any
support for the schools funding formula. A Council Tax rise of 6.71% would
raise £4.984m towards the remaining budget gap of £5.752m. Reserves and
balances can be drawn upon to a manageable level only in support of balancing
We fully recognise and share the risk position for our schools and fully
appreciate that schools are concerned about the impact of a potential cash flat
settlement to their delegated budgets. We have been very open with head
teachers about the financial challenges facing the Council and the subsequent
impact on schools’ funding with the risks that it poses. We are trying to find
at least a partial solution with very few options at our disposal. Given the
overall budget position, the Council must continue to focus on setting a
legally balanced budget.
If there is any further information forthcoming regarding the Council’s
negotiations with Welsh Government and whether there are any further options to
balance the budget, this will be shared in Cabinet next week.