Budget Cuts Force Cabinet To Consider Service Changes

In preparation for the impact of the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), the Council’s Cabinet will consider a number of services changes next week.

The Council faces a £63m budget gap over the next three years as a result of UK Government spending cuts, which have already been indicated. 

The Welsh Government and local councils anticipate that further cuts to public expenditure will be announced by the UK Government in the CSR later this month. 

Cabinet will consider a number of options relating to Libraries, Youth Services, Supported Bus Routes, Customer Care Services and Day Nurseries, which seek to make changes to the way the services are delivered in order to make important savings but retain the core service for the future. 

Any proposals agreed by the Cabinet will be subject to an eight-week consultation before a decision is taken. 

Commenting on the proposals to be discussed by the Cabinet next week (Tuesday 10th November), County Borough Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council said: “Before we receive detail of the Comprehensive Spending Review, cuts to public sector spending already indicated mean the Council faces a funding shortfall of over £63m over the next three years. 

“To deal with this massive financial challenge, the Council is seeking to make savings in a number of areas. 

“Proposals are already being consulted upon to reduce our senior management costs (£1.7m over the last 12 months) and we are seeking to make as many ‘back office’ efficiencies as possible to protect frontline services from the impact of UK Government cuts. 

“Faced with such a significant funding shortfall moving forward, we reluctantly need to consider a number of potential service changes.

“The fact that some of the areas proposed for consideration are ones which have already been affected is a reminder of how severe the cuts to public sector funding are.

“Reductions in the levels of service we provide are simply unavoidable. As far as we can, we want to avoid removing services completely. 

“The options proposed to Cabinet for Libraries, Youth Services, Supported Bus Routes, Customer Care and Day Nurseries seek to maintain these services within the reduced funding levels we expect to receive, and based on the proposals presented would still ensure the levels of services provided in RCT remain comparatively high when compared with other councils. 

“These are very difficult decisions once again for the Cabinet to consider but we are faced with no alternative in these financial circumstances. 

“These options have the potential to realise savings of over £1m. The Council needs to achieve total savings of around £27m to set a balanced and legal budget for 2016/17 financial year. 

“Outside these amendments to service levels we will seek to make the further savings necessary through continued efficiencies and smarter ways of working to deliver services. 

“The late timing of the CSR is set to cause chaos for budget setting in all public sector organisations this year. We would normally know the broad detail of our funding for the next financial year during October. 

“All public sector funding flows from London, so the Welsh Government will not know how much Wales’ funding has been cut until the CSR is announced, meaning local authorities cannot consider their own budget setting processes until December. 

“This will mean a huge rush to set a balanced budget by the legally set date of the 11th March. 

“On top of the cuts by stealth the public sector are set to experience through the UK Government’s changes to National Insurance and other areas, this timescale makes an already difficult financial situation even worse. 

“As Councillors we are faced with no alternative other than to respond.” 

The Council has already identified efficiencies of £69m to date and a further £6M will need to be identified within the next financial year to protect frontline services. 

The Cabinet will next week consider proposals to: 

Library Service – Retain all the current libraries but reduce the overall weekly opening hours of 10 of the 13 branch libraries to 31.5 hours per library and reduce the Book Fund – saving £0.327m 

Youth Services – Revise management and staff structures and reduce the enrichment budget by 10% to continue delivering this service – saving £0.384m 

Supported Bus Routes – Reduce the number of local bus routes subsidised by the Council – saving £0.050m 

Day Nurseries – Close Llantrisant Nursery and review and revise staffing and fee paying arrangements to continue providing all other Local Authority Day Care Pre-school Nurseries – saving £0.176m 

Customer Care – Revise Contact Centre service standards and revise the staffing arrangements for One4All centres and Contact Centre – saving £0.120m

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