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Thursday, December 21, 2023

County warns of service cuts and tax increase to bridge £18m budget gap

* County Hall in Ruthin.

Denbighshire County Council faces a funding gap of almost £18m after receiving its 2024/25 provisional funding settlement from Welsh Government yesterday (Wednesday).

And its finance leader warns this will have to be bridged through savings and efficiencies, increasing charges for services, increases in Council Tax or by reducing or cutting services

The government announcement indicates Denbighshire’s budget will go up by £6.7 million in cash terms, an increase of 3.6% for the forthcoming financial year, compared with the current year 2023/24.

The latest estimate is that delivering day to day services which range from providing care to the most vulnerable in our communities, maintaining our roads, collection of household waste and provision of education to our learners in the county’s schools, in 2024/25 will cost an additional £24.5m compared with this year. 

This is due to increases in demand for services and the ongoing impact that high levels of inflation continue to have on the costs of delivering services.

Council Leader, Councillor Jason McLellan, said “The Council has been developing its budget for the next financial year for many months. An increase of 3% in funding from Welsh Government had been used in forecasts to date, whilst the increase above our planning assumption is welcomed and is positive, it does not materially change the unprecedented financial challenge we face. All options to reduce costs across the authority continue to be explored.”

Councillor Gwyneth Ellis, Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets, added, “Challenging times lie ahead for us as a Council as we, like local authorities throughout Wales, face unprecedented continuing pressure on our budget due to rising costs and a sustained increase in demand for services.

“Despite an expected increase in funding of £6.7m (3.6%) by Welsh Government, this still leaves a funding gap of £17.8m. The settlement is not sufficient to meet the cost pressures we are facing. Like Local Authorities across Wales, the Council has a statutory duty to set a balanced budget and must do so through finding savings and efficiencies, increasing charges for services, increases in Council Tax or by reducing or cutting services."

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