Gwynedd Council's financial strategy - public consultation
Due to cuts in the funding Gwynedd receives from the government and the significant increase in the costs of delivering local services, the Council will face a financial gap of almost £13 million in 2019/20. This comes after many years of cutting back on spending and delivering financial savings across the Council.
To address the funding gap in the next financial year, the Council anticipates that it will be able to reduce the shortfall to £6.8 million by delivering savings that are already scheduled to be implemented along with various other arrangements.
The Council has then identified opportunities to further reduce ‘back office’ costs and to work more efficiently to save an additional £2 million in ways which it hopes will not have a negative impact on the people of Gwynedd.
To address the remaining £4.8 million gap, the Council has no option but to consider implementing more savings and increasing Council Tax. Before deciding on the way forward, the Council is eager to hear the views of Gwynedd residents on its financial strategy and the detailed proposals the authority will have to decide upon when setting the budget for 2019/20.
Gwynedd Council's Chief Executive, Dilwyn Williams said: "For more than a decade, the Council has had to contend with cuts in the funding available to provide local services for the people of Gwynedd. We are now reaching the end of what is possible without having to implement significant cuts to front line services.
“It was clear from the recent 'Gwynedd People's Priorities' public engagement exercise that the vast majority of services the Council provides are important or vitally important either to local residents as a whole or to a particular community or group of people within the county. I’d like to thank everyone that took part in that particular exercise and I would stress that the proposals that are now being considered are a genuine attempt to address the financial gap in ways that reflects the priorities of the people of the county.
“In accordance with what residents have said, we are proposing that the Council should further reduce ‘back office’ costs to keep cuts to front-line services to an absolute minimum. In particular, the proposals are an attempt to respond to the clear message that the two areas which account for around two thirds of the Council's budget, namely education and care, should be protected.
“We have also listened to feedback from specific groups such as young people and older people and as a result it is recommended that the public transport budget should be protected whilst cuts that affect the business sector are to be limited to an absolute minimum.”
There are only two options left for the Council to close the remaining £4.8 million gap - increasing Council Tax or introducing plans to generate income or cut services. What is being proposed in the public consultation is a combination of both in order to protect key front line services.
Dilwyn Williams added: “To address the remaining gap it is proposed that Council Tax is increased by 5.5% for 2019/20 and that the Council implements 65 proposals to deliver £1 million of savings over the year.
“Before Gwynedd councillors agree on the way forward in March, there is now an opportunity for the people of Gwynedd to share their views on what is being proposed, and in particular the 65 specific proposals. I would urge residents to take the opportunity to participate in this public consultation."
The Council is encouraging Gwynedd residents to take part in the consultation by completing an online questionnaire at www.gwynedd.llyw.cymru/FinancialStrategy by 31 January 2019. Paper copies of the survey will also be available from the Council’s Siop Gwynedd one-stop-shops in Caernarfon, Dolgellau and Pwllheli and from the county’s libraries.