Denbighshire Council Cuts Not As Bad As Feared

Cuts to social services in Denbighshire will not be as high as first feared, the county council has revealed.

Councillors had said “unpopular decisions” would be made because more than half of the budget increase was being spent on improving education.

It was feared social services would be £1m under budget, but an £800,000 under-spend in the last year has meant the shortfall was reduced to £200,000.

The authority has set its council tax increase for the coming year at 3.32%.

The council faces a “below average” funding settlement from the Welsh Assembly Government.

It said improving schools and education – which were criticised by watchdog Estyn – remained its priority for 2008-2009 and would account for more than 50% of its budget increase.

On Tuesday, it revealed “schools and educational improvement” will receive additional funding of £1.75m, of which £860,000 will go to schools.

The council said an extra £500,000 was allocated for social services – despite bids totalling about £1.5m.

However, it said: “An under-spend of £800,000 in social services in the current financial year will be rolled over, resulting in up to £1.3m to meet pressures in Social Services in 2008/09.”

Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, cabinet lead member for finance, warned that future budget increases from the assembly government were likely to be even lower.

She added: “We have to accept that, as a result of the assembly settlement for the next few years, we cannot afford to continue funding and running all services as they have been in the past.

“No area of the council’s operation can be excluded from consideration.”

A task group will be set up to review the operating costs of libraries in the county and the Rhyl and Llangollen pavilions.