Blaenau Gwent council faces £800,000 funding shortfall

BLAENAU Gwent council faces a £806,000 shortfall as part of the projections for the borough’s annual cash injection from the assembly.

The annual Local Government Settlement Grant is the single biggest revenue source for all councils in Wales, with Blaenau Gwent scheduled to receive £109.8m.

On the surface, it would be a £948,000 increase – equivalent to a 0.87% rise, ranking it 19th out of the 22 authorities in Wales. But because more than £1.75m of previously grant-funded schemes will be funded through the LSG, Blaenau Gwent will be left with a six-figure deficit.

It supports the fears of the council’s budget team in September, when it was expecting to have to find 3% of budget cuts in 2013/14.

The grants now included in the LSG used to be for the blue badge scheme, school counselling, school breakfasts and post-16 education for those with special education needs.

In response, the council has said it will be concentrating on the social service partnership with Caerphilly to help ease the budget pressure.

A spokeswoman said: “The council realises that reaching the funding settlement has been a difficult process for the Welsh Government.

“The figure quoted for Blaenau Gwent was factually correct when published by WAG. However, there were a number of previously grant-funded schemes that will now be funded through the settlement and could not be considered as new money.

“The council has embraced the collaboration agenda and is currently engaged in the biggest social services collaboration in Wales.

“The Welsh Government’s decision to top-slice the settlement to create a collaboration fund will greatly assist the collaboration process.”

Meanwhile, Alun Davies AM said: “The Welsh Labour Government is determined to support our local authorities across Wales to make sure residents get the best services possible.

“Whether it is road improvements, refuse collection or maintaining high standards in schools, it is crucial Welsh councils are given the necessary funds to deliver those valuable services.

“This is a much better settlement than was previously expected and much fairer than local authorities are getting in England.

“It’s important now that our councils work together in collaboration to deliver the most efficient services to the best of their ability.

“There are still tough economic times ahead and Blaenau Gwent must be equipped to weather the financial storm.”