PEOPLE are being encouraged to get involved in Carmarthenshire County Council’s annual budget setting process and have a say on future spending and savings.
The council is inviting local residents, businesses, community and voluntary organisations to have their say on its draft budget so that councillors can consider public feedback before making a final decision in March.
The council has a legal responsibility to set a balanced budget every year, ensuring that income from sources such as Council Tax, revenue from paid-for services and grants is enough to cover its expenditure.
Council Tax raises around £105million a year and contributes to around a quarter of the total annual budget.
The current budget projections are based on a proposed Council Tax increase of 4.4 per cent (around £1.15 a week more for the average Band D property), but to balance the budget the Council must find and deliver £11.7million of savings over the next three years.
Councillors must also find a way to manage the increasing demand for certain services, such as social care, and inflationary pressures – including the rising cost of energy bills and increasing costs of paying the foundation living wage – as well as delivering day to day services and schemes that will benefit and grow the county’s economy.
The council continues to feel the impact and uncertainty from the Covid-19 pandemic, with increasing pressure on several service areas and the prospect of Welsh Government’s hardship funding coming to an end.
Cllr David Jenkins, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “Unfortunately Welsh Government’s funding to councils has not kept pace with rising costs and increasing demands for our services, which is creating a budget shortfall every year.
“The settlement figure we’ve recently received appears healthy on the face of it, but with the Covid-19 hardship fund expected to come to an end, the settlement will have to contribute to the extra costs that we continue to face as we respond to the pandemic.
“We also face rising inflationary costs at the same time as increased demand on our services.
“We will continue to do the best we possibly can, identifying savings proposals that will have minimal impact on frontline services, but difficult decisions will need to be made.
“We truly appreciate the financial hardship that people are facing, and now more than ever we encourage people to get involved in our budget setting process.
“The more people that respond the better as we will have more feedback on which to base our decisions.”
The budget consultation has now opened allowing people to view the proposed draft budget and have their say.
Councillors will consider the views expressed in the consultation when the budget is finally approved by Full Council in March.
People can share their views online at www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/consultations, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, leaving feedback on the council’s social media channels @CarmsCouncil, or calling in to a council customer service Hwb in Llanelli, Carmarthen and Ammanford town centres.
The budget consultation closes at 5pm on February 6, 2022.
Image credit: Nigel Davies / Carmarthenshire County Hall