Standing Up For Swansea

Labour-controlled council’s budget on track despite challenges of austerity and Brexit

Swansea Council leader Rob Stewart believes the Labour-led administration’s 2019-20 budget is well placed despite outside challenges.

The demands of austerity, the rising demand for services and the challenges thrown up by Brexit are all putting pressure on the council coffers.

But in a report presented to the Labour council cabinet – assessing the council’s financial performance over the first quarter of the year – the suggestions are the council will meet its budget expectations this year.

A projected overspend of £3.4m, due partly to the pressure of rising demand for services for older adults and vulnerable children, will be met from a £7m contingency fund.

The remainder of the fund will be held back to meet unexpected costs or overspends in the coming months.

Swansea Labour leader Rob Stewart, leader of the Council, said: “Compared to last year when the first quarter report predicted a deficit of £9m, this year’s report suggests that the significant and prudent savings made since then leave us reasonably well-placed to meet the challenges from continuing austerity and Brexit.

“Thanks to the tough decisions we had to take, the council balanced last year’s budget and our finances are on a sound footing. This is despite the grave uncertainties of Brexit, the potential for a UK recession and no end in sight to austerity.”

The report to Cabinet identified rising pressure on the cost of home to school transport, the budget for additional learning needs for children as well as services for looked after children and support for vulnerable and older adults.

Cllr Stewart said that some of the increased costs were due to rising demand for safeguarding services for some of the most vulnerable people in city communities.

He said: “As a council we know that austerity for local government services has not ended. That’s why we need to look at ways to do things differently, such as invest in automated services and make further savings by reducing our energy bills and cutting our carbon footprint.

“We also need to do different things like generate income through commercialising some of our services.

“Our financial performance report suggests the council has made good progress in managing our budgets. But there will be more to do in the months ahead.”

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