Cabinet Member for Finance at Monmouthshire Council, Phil Murphy, said services will not be affected and the bulk of budget savings will be made by making the council work in more efficient ways.
“The budget setting this year has been the most consulted on ever.
“We are able to take most of the hit itself by our ongoing review of the management and staffing of every department, collaborating where appropriate, the application of “lean thinking reviews”, the increased use of digital technology, the extension of agile working principles and our accommodation.
“This is despite the many years of slimming down and increased efficiencies driven by the traditional underfunding from WAG.”
Councillor Murphy said the council will:
- increase the funding to schools beyond the Welsh Assembly Government requirements
- appoint another social worker and secure additional investment to enable them to support frail older people to live safely and independently at home.
- maintain its grant to Citizen Advice Bureaus
- keep leisure centres, libraries and One Stop Shops open
“Although we have adopted a model of supporting public toilets through town and community councils, most of them will remain open.
“We have taken note of helpful comments from residents and removed the proposal to charge for the starch bags used for food waste as it was felt this might harm our recycling progress. We will improve our consultation with chambers of commerce and town and community councils. We will also continue our programme of additional expenditure on roads.
“The other support for the budget is of course the element of council tax. Monmouthshire has to collect more as a percentage of its total budget from council tax than any other authority in Wales . This year we are forced to recommend an increase albeit a smaller rise than previous recent increases.
Paul Matthews, Chief Executive, said:
“Without doubt the setting of the council’s budget for the forthcoming year has been the hardest financial challenge that we have faced for more than a decade.
“It has required us to ask some pretty fundamental questions about what our priorities are and what we are prepared to sacrifice to achieve them. It has also tested our ability to continue to build on the findings of two recent independent studies that have concluded that not only is Monmouthshire the best place to live in Wales but it is also the best placed county to ride out the effects of the difficult economic times that we are living through.
“We continue to be the lowest funded council by the Welsh Assembly Government by some distance. We get £1,083 per head of population compared to an all-Wales average of £1,320 and a Wales high of £1,570. In cash terms, our funding for the year ahead has reduced by £3.2 million; or a 3.3% reduction in funding.
“There clearly remains a reluctance to recognise that there are very real additional costs associated with providing services in a large rural county.
“Whilst not happy with our funding position, we are getting on with it and accelerating a programme of change across the whole Council that is improving our effectiveness and reducing our cost base.”
Residents can see Councillor Phil Murphy on YouTube describing the budget proposals that will go for approval to Council in March 2011 here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpmUbPzKyDg