Public urged to take part in Cardiff Council Budget consultation


Cardiff Council needs to find £16.4m to balance the books in 2021/22 and city residents are being asked for their views on the council's priorities for setting its budget for the year ahead.

A four-week-long public consultation will launch onWednesday, January 13, before final proposals are brought to Full Council to consider in February. 

Cabinet Member for Finance, Performance and Modernisation, Cllr Chris Weaver, said: "This year Cardiff received a better-than-expected 3.8% increase in funding from Welsh Government. This represents an additional £18m in cash terms.

"However, despite this very welcome uplift, it's still not enough to pay for the services we deliver. In fact it leaves a £16.4m budget gap in our finances, a gap we will have to find a way to bridge if we are to continue delivering the vital services our residents value so much. Vital services which have delivered so much during the pandemic.

"Since the first lockdown back in late March this council has worked hard for our residents. Not only have we maintained and adapted our key services to deliver them safely, we have also delivered thousands of food parcels to people shielding; housed the city's rough sleepers in suitable accommodation, and provided free school meals and laptops to children from low income families to help with their home schooling.

"We have also provided financial support and PPE to care homes and care providers to help them operate safely during the pandemic, and we have accessed and delivered grants for thousands of businesses who were forced to shut down during the outbreak.

"Of course most of this wasn't budgeted for. Nobody could have expected the huge spend and huge financial losses we would face because of the pandemic. Cardiff Council spent £38m between April and November alone to combat the effects of COVID and lost £22m in income over six-months.

"I welcome the fact the Welsh Government has covered a great deal of this expense, but the long-term financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis is not yet fully understood, so it remains difficult to predict the course of the pandemic and its impact on services, and on council finances, over the year ahead. Although we can be sure it will of course have a financial cost to the council, especially if we are to maintain our services at the current level."

The Council set out a budget strategy last autumn, which made some provisional assumptions. That strategy could potentially lead to a budget that bridges the £16.4m funding gap in three ways. These could be:

  • Realising £10.25m in efficiency savings;
  • Raising council tax by 4% (equivalent to 97p a week on a Band D home);
  • Using reserves.

The final decision on the shape of the budget will be made after the consultation, before the end of this financial year.

Cllr Weaver, added: "Most of the money the Council receives comes from grants from Welsh Government. Only about 28% comes from Council Tax. The majority of our budget - around two thirds - is spent on running schools and social services. Without council tax many of the other important services we deliver could be lost or face severe cuts. An increase of 4% amounts to 97p a week on a Band D property, around £4 a month, but that would go some way towards helping us maintain the services our citizens rely on as we plan for a better future post pandemic."

The consultation which opens on the afternoon of Wednesday, January 13, has pinpointed several key priorities that it wants residents' views on. These include:

  • Leading the city's economic recovery;
  • Investing in schools and education;
  • Tackling the city's housing crisis, delivering 2000 new council homes;
  • Rebuilding Cardiff's cultural scene;
  • Reducing congestion and air pollution;
  • Keeping our streets and communities clean;
  • Using the One Planet Cardiff strategy to deliver a green recovery for the city.

Cllr Chris Weaver, said: "This council has always had high ambitions for our city. We have always wanted the best for our residents and we are determined to ensure Cardiff makes a quick recovery from the effects of the pandemic. I urge everyone to take part in the consultation."

Consultation details will be released on Wednesday, January 13. The consultation will have to be carried out electronically and online this year due to the lockdown restrictions currently in place in Wales. Details on how the public can take part will be made available on the Council's website and on its social media channels from January 13.