10:02am Saturday 26th October 2013
LOCAL services will face cuts equivalent to more than £200 per household next year as austerity bites Gwent.
With Caerphilly council starting work on their budget for 2014/15, a picture has emerged of how much authorities think they will need to cut to balance their books.
Next year Gwent councils will likely need to prepare for £56.6 million in cuts – equivalent to £233 for each of the 242,842 households in the area’s five counties.
Forecasts from councils show that by 2017 as much as £135 million will need to be slashed.
The burden may hurt harder in some areas than others. Blaenau Gwent faces slashing £10 million in 2014/15, equivalent to £328 per household.
Torfaen faces cuts of £11.1 million, or £288 per household, compared to £9 million or £235 per household in Monmouthshire.
Newport is likely need to cut £12 million and Caerphilly £14.5 million - that comes to £196 and £194 per household respectively.
Councils will be preparing how they might meet that shortfall within the next few months – with options available including cutting services, employees or buildings, or putting up council tax.
All this has come about because of cuts from the UK Government, which are being passed down to the Assembly, and because there is an increased demand on many council services.
Earlier this month the Welsh Government announced that while the NHS will get £570 million extra over the next three years, councils face cuts of £150 million.
Current proposals for council funding put Gwent councils as losing out on £25 million for 2014/15.
Caerphilly councillors were told at a special meeting on Wednesday that they will have to make savings of £14.5 million for 2014/15.
Further additional savings of £6.5 million would be required for 2015/16, as well as £7 million for 2016/17 – nearly £30m over three years.
A report delivered by acting director of corporate services Nicole Scammell told councillors the council was "moving into a period of severe austerity, albeit from a sound financial base".
Keith Reynolds, deputy leader of the council, warned members that “some very painful decisions will have to be made in the not too distant future.”
Members heard how the Council Tax increases were likely to remain unchanged at an increase of 2.35 per cent per annum over the next three years.
Proposals for savings will be presented to councillors on November 21, while a series of meetings for councillors will allow future budget plans to be scrutinised.
A special council will agree the budget for 2014/15 in February 2014.
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