Posted on: Thursday 4 March 2021
Torfaen councillors have approved the authority’s budget for the 2021/22 financial year.
- £3 million more for schools in Torfaen – an increase of 4.8 per cent on 2020-2021
- A pay rise for teachers as part of a national pay award announced in September
- An extra £1 million for Children’s Social Care Services
- The creation of a new Canal Officer post
- Additional funding to ensure an affordable waste service
Torfaen Council had been facing a financial deficit of more than £6m for 2021-2022. But an increase in the authority's settlement from the Welsh Government of 4.09% has reduced the gap by just under £3m.
The budget, which was approved by councillors on Thursday (March 4), also includes a council tax increase of 3.95 per cent. The rise will mean the Council's Band D council tax will increase to £1,421.46 in 2021/22, an increase of just over £1 per week.
Torfaen Council's Executive Member for Resources, Cllr Kelly Preston described it as a balanced budget which includes investment in key priority areas and no major reductions to services.
Cllr Preston, said: "As a result of the positive settlement from Welsh Government and the Council’s collective financial discipline, both during this current year and in the development of the budget for 2021/22, I am pleased there will be investment in our key priorities and no major service changes.
"This is a good budget which both protects vital services and provides additional money for our most critical service areas."
The Leader of Torfaen Council, Cllr Anthony Hunt, said: "The latest settlement and recent financial announcements is a clear indication that the Welsh Government appreciates the value of the local services we provide, especially at such a difficult time thanks to the covid-19 pandemic. This has allowed us to protect core services and key priorities.
"Balancing the books is still not easy though - we have experienced considerable cost, increased demand and service disruption this year due to Covid-19. It is therefore vital that Welsh Government are working with us to support local services during the most uncertain period we have ever experienced.
"During this exceptional year, the role of local government staff in our communities has come to the fore. I’m particularly proud of the council’s response to maintaining services and going the extra mile to protect our most vulnerable residents through our approach to the shielding scheme. Council staff have worked to deliver a test, trace and protect service that is performing well above the privately-run service in England. They’ve administered the business grants schemes for businesses hit during the crisis, paying out £26.4 million to local firms in Torfaen.
"They've also helped residents whose finances have been impacted, through the council tax reduction scheme, isolation payments and free school meal payments. This budget includes an additional £52,000 for the council’s Discretionary Housing Payment Scheme, which supports the most vulnerable in times of need.
"I’m pleased the 2021/22 budget continues to demonstrate our commitment to improve lives through learning, support for the most vulnerable and keeping communities cleaner and greener."
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