News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Flintshire Council needs to make £15m in savings following worse than expected settlement

Flintshire Council could be forced to make savings of more than £15 million after being hit hard by funding cuts from the Welsh Government.

The authority was one of the worst affected by the provisional funding announcement from Cardiff last month, with a reduction of one per cent.

It will now need to make cuts of around £15.6 million during the 2019/20 financial year unless more money is forthcoming.

The figure was revealed at a special scrutiny committee meeting at County Hall in Mold, where savings earmarked for two arm’s length companies were set out.

Aura Leisure and Libraries and Newydd Catering and Cleaning are expected to make collective savings of approximately £400,000.

Highlighting cuts already made across the department, the council’s chief officer for housing and assets, Neal Cockerton said: “I think it’s an awful lot of money in terms of efficiencies.

“It’s an awful lot of money and baring in mind that unlike other authorities we haven’t closed those facilities, we’ve grown them.”

The previous mooted figure in order to help plug the gap was £13.7m, but that has now gone up following the announcement by Welsh Government local government cabinet secretary Alun Davies.

Mr Davies has been slammed by politicians in Flintshire after he compared councils complaining about funding to Oliver Twist.

At today’s meeting, council officer Rachael Corbelli said the two companies being discussed had a starting budget of £6.3m and had already made savings of over £2m.

However, she warned that making further cuts could severely impact on their viability.

She said: “What we don’t want is to destabilise those companies as they’re running really well at the moment.
“In terms of any further reductions from ourselves, we need to be very careful about that.

“With the local settlement, I know you’re all very aware it wasn’t great news for Flintshire and we’re looking at a £15.6m gap.”

Lobbying by local authorities to the Welsh Government for more money is ongoing with members of the Welsh Local Government Association showing a united front.

The final budget settlement is expected to be announced in December and there are hopes that UK Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement could boost council funds.

Queensferry councillor David Wisinger reiterated calls for an improved amount from Cardiff.

He said: “I really hope they do listen to the people of North Wales as we really do feel we’re being let down badly.
“We’re scraping the barrel now and we can’t go any further.”

Councillors voted unanimously to support the savings put forward in respect of Aura Leisure and Newydd Catering, as well as cuts of close to £1m on caretaking, valuations, estates and property maintenance.

Flintshire’s final budget for next year is expected to be decided at a meeting in February.

By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter.

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