Posted on: Tuesday 10 January 2023
Today, Torfaen Council’s cabinet committee endorsed a report that updated the council’s financial position for 2022/23 and importantly outlines how the council is moving towards a balanced budget position for 2023/24.
Previous forecasts allowing for a 1.95% Council Tax increase and an anticipated 3.5% increase in Welsh Government funding, initially indicated a funding shortfall of £12.5million for 2023/2024.
Speaking in the council chamber, Councillor Sue Morgan, Torfaen Council’s Executive Member for Resources, welcomed the improved financial picture from the last report in November 2022.
Cllr Morgan said: “The council’s provisional settlement received in December from the Welsh Government provided a welcome financial boost above and beyond the early indications. This now allows the council to move towards a balanced position for 2023/24.
“The council received a £12million or 7.5 per cent uplift on its 2022/23 settlement, which has given us £6.5million more than estimated in the last report. This will help us meet the huge pressures in budgets this year, including for example nearly £4m of rises in energy costs across council buildings including schools.
“We have already agreed that our council tax increase will be limited to 1.95%, in recognition that residents also have huge challenges with the rising cost of living. It will also allow departments to fulfil our County Plan’s promise to focus resources on improving the wellbeing of residents by tackling inequalities and addressing environmental challenges in our county.”
The settlement also outlines that the council’s unrestricted capital funding allocation is £5.41million for 2023/24, which represents a £911,000 increase over 2022/23.
The latest revenue budget forecast for the current year has also improved since November.
The Leader of Torfaen Council, Councillor Anthony Hunt added: “The council’s provisional settlement from Welsh Government was significantly higher than initial projections. Once again this demonstrates the priority the Welsh Government places on local government and the services we provide. While inflationary pressures will continue to present a significant challenge, this settlement will allow us to mitigate the worst impacts on services and residents.
“The budget proposals include one-off use of reserves to mitigate the impact of energy and non-pay inflation in 2023/24. As these costs will hopefully return to lower levels, it would not be fair to make damaging service cuts for what could be short lived pressures. This approach is also supported by a programme of work aimed at reducing wider costs going forward.”
Torfaen’s Deputy Chief Executive and budget report author, Nigel Aurelius, said: “The better-than-expected provisional settlement now provides an opportunity to delve deeper for efficiencies in areas such as partnership working, contract management, commissioning and procurement and for ways to reduce our own energy costs.
"These savings can offset further predicted shortfalls over the next few years in a measured way which continues to support residents and protect services.”
During January, the budget will be considered next by the Resources Scrutiny Committee, who can make recommendations to Cabinet, before final budget proposals are considered at a full Council meeting on February 28.
To read the full report visit Scrutiny Report Template (torfaen.gov.uk)