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Cardiff Council

Council Budget

The Budget 2023 to 2024 public consultation closed 29 January 2023

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​​​​​​​​​​We are striving to build a Stronger, Fairer and Greener Cardiff.

A stronger city, with an economy offering well-paid jobs, an e​ducation system that allows young people to reach their potential, and where good, affordable housing in safe communities are available to all.

A fairer city, where the opportunities of living in Cardiff can be enjoyed by everyone, whatever their background. Where those suffering the effects of poverty will be supported and where a fair day’s work receives a fair day’s pay.

A greener city, responding to the climate emergency, promoting biodiversity and ensuring high-quality open spaces are available to everyone. All this will be accessible by convenient, safe and affordable sustainable transport options.

But, like Local Authorities across the UK, Cardiff is once again facing a series of extraordinary pressures, driven by the cost-of-living crisis, the energy crisis, and the lasting impact of Covid-19. 

This means that everything we do, every service we offer, now costs more to deliver to our residents. Next year, 2023 to 24, we estimate that delivering the day-to-day services you received this year - including schools and social services, waste collection and parks – will cost us an extra £75m because of price increases, inflation and demand pressures.

Despite an increase in funding from Welsh Government, that still leaves us with £23m we must find through savings and efficiencies, charges for services or by reducing or cutting services. It remains a significant budget gap and we know that, during difficult times, many of the city’s residents will turn to the Council for support. We will not let them down.

That is why the savings proposals we are putting forward prioritises support for the most vulnerable, protects frontline services and ensures fair funding for education and social services. In fact, as we continue to prioritise education in Cardiff we are proposing, as part of this consultation, a growth in schools funding of £25 million.

To allow us to do this we have had to deliver a significant level of savings through back-office efficiencies. This has included driving down cost by reducing the use of our buildings and making better use of technology.

However, this alone is not enough to close the £23m budget gap and so the Council is considering a number of changes to our frontline services in order to balance the budget in 2023 to 24.​

Councillor Huw Thomas, Leader, Cardiff Council

The cost of delivering services has increased by almost £75m, which means that the Council is facing a projected funding gap of over £23 million. This is the gap between the projected cost of delivering our services and the amount of resources available. Despite Welsh Government providing funding to support an increase to the Council’s budget, it is not enough to cover the cost of delivering services, leaving a budget gap that needs to be closed.

There are a number of reasons why the Council is projecting such a large budget gap.

  • Increasing Demand for our Services: As the cost-of-living crisis deepens, more and more people are turning to the Council for support, which means that the demand for our services is increasing. We know, for example, that the number of people claiming Universal Credit is almost double the pre-pandemic level, with the number of people accessing our advice service having doubled since April last year. The number of social service casework has increased significantly over the last two years whilst Free-school-meal caseloads have increased substantially. With more people seeking to access Council services, the cost of delivery is going up.
  • Inflationary Pressures: With inflation now over 11%, the costs of delivering public services and investing in our buildings and infrastructure are all going up. Energy: Soaring energy prices means that the Council is looking at paying an extra £13m next year to heat our buildings and light our streets.Pay: We believe public sector employees - who deliver vital services across the city- should be paid fairly. Higher pay awards than were initially budgeted for are being agreed, although they are still significantly below the rate of inflation for a number of Council staff, and below the private sector pay increases that are being seen. Food, Fuel and Transport: The cost of buying food, fuel and transport- to deliver school meals and school transport- are all going up.
  • Legacy of Covid: The lasting impact of Covid is still being felt, with some services experiencing an ongoing loss of income whilst others are facing greater challenges and more complex issues as they support recovery.

Even though Cardiff Council is due to receive an increase in Welsh Government support of 9% for next year, it is not enough to meet the additional costs the Council is now facing.​​
The budget gap will need to be closed through a combination of:

  • Efficiency Savings and Service Change Proposals: The Council is committed to protecting frontline services and is therefore looking to generate as much savings as possible through back-office efficiencies. This means driving down the running cost of our buildings, reducing the amount of office space we need, and using new technology where it can save us money. The scale of the financial challenges also means that the Council has been looking at a managed reduction in the number of staff employed, through voluntary severance, to generate savings whilst keeping compulsory redundancies to a minimum. Taken together, these efficiency savings will make the biggest contribution to closing the budget gap. Unfortunately, they will not be enough, and some changes to services may be necessary to balance the books. That is why we want to know what the people of Cardiff think about some of the potential changes that we could make to save money.
  • Council Tax: Council Tax accounts for only 27% of the Council’s budget, with the remainder coming from the Welsh Government. Each increase of 1% in Council tax only generates around £1.6m, therefore closing the budget gap through tax increases alone is not realistic, especially in a cost-of-living crisis.
Use of Reserves: The Council has to be very careful when using its financial reserves, there is only a limited amount available and once they’re gone, they’re gone. The majority of the Council’s reserves are earmarked for specific purposes and are therefore already committed in support of delivering services, for example funding one off community initiatives and supporting Homelessness Prevention Services. The Council does maintain a level of General Balance totalling £14.2M to cover unforeseen costs and this equates to less than 2% of the Council’s overall net budget.​
There is a legal duty on all Councils in England and Wales to deliver a balanced budget to fund the running of our services.

Councils across the UK are facing huge financial pressures driven by the lasting impact of Covid-19 and the cost-of-living and energy crises. Cardiff Council is no exception and is facing cost increases of over £75m.

These cost increases and delivery pressures are as great as anything the Council has experienced over the last 15 years. This means that public services must continue to identify every possible opportunity to deliver efficiencies, drive down cost and, in some cases, even reduce the level of service being delivered.

When we consulted on your service delivery priorities earlier this year you made clear that your top three priorities were:

  • Schools and Education including Youth Services.
  • Supporting vulnerable children and families.
  • Supporting vulnerable adults and older people.

That is why the budget proposals will protect schools, education and social services. It does mean, however, that more savings will need to be found elsewhere in the Council’s budget.

We are doing all we can to save money through working more efficiently and not impacting front line services and have identified significant back-office efficiency savings for the year ahead. However, this is not enough to close the budget gap and so the Council is considering a number of options to balance the budget in 2023 to 2024.

We want to know what you think of these. 

The Budget 2023 to 2024 public consultation closed 29 January 2023

In April 2019 Cardiff Council introduced a premium of 50% for long term unoccupied proper​ties. The reason for this is to try an encourage homeowners to bring properties back into occupation.

The Council is currently considering whether to increase the current premium with effect from 1st April 2023 to 100% and also give notice to introduce a new premium to vacant furnished properties that are not anyone’s sole of main residence. Prior to making a final decision the Council is consulting about it’s proposals and would welcome views from interested parties.

The Council Tax Premiums survey closed 29 January 2023

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