£5m invested in key services for Newport
Posted on Wednesday 15th February 2023
Newport City Council’s Cabinet has agreed how it will spend its 2023-24 budget.
In December last year, a number of proposals went out to public consultation and the response from the public was excellent, with thousands of responses received.
Councillor Jane Mudd, Leader of the council, said: “We have promised to be a listening council and I was pleased with the level of response this year. It has been one of the most challenging budgets we’ve had to set in recent years, and it was vitally important that everyone had their opportunity to contribute. Every response was reviewed and considered before we made our final decisions.”
Since the draft budget was announced in December, a number of changes and updates including a positive Welsh Government settlement, reductions in pressures, additional savings and confirmation of other grant funding have meant the Cabinet could allocate an additional £2.5m.
The decision was also taken to re-purpose some of the council’s reserves, meaning an overall additional investment of £5m in 2023/24.
Councillor Mudd added: “We are very pleased to be able to invest in some of the areas our residents felt were most important. The decisions made by Cabinet today will mean that key services can continue, some cuts will not have to be made and others will have additional time and opportunity to consider how we can change and deliver services more efficiently in the future.”
Taking into consideration the views of residents about what services are most important to them, balanced with a challenging gap between the money available and the increasing costs of delivering services, some of the key decisions agreed by Cabinet include:
Newport’s council tax increase will now be 8.5% rather than the proposed 9.5%. The Cabinet recognised that this is a considerable bill for Newport households but were pleased that responses to the consultation acknowledged the council’s position, that increases were unavoidable and that it can enable services to be protected.
For Bands A to C, which are the most common in Newport, this equates to an increase of between £1.39 and £1.85 per week. Even with this increase, Newport is expected to maintain one of the lowest council tax rates in Wales.
The proposed council tax increase will now go before full council on Tuesday 28 February.
Investment in schools
In the draft budget, funding for schools had already increased in real cash terms, but there were still challenges including increasing pupil numbers, pay-related pressures and increasing costs – so an extra £2.8m has been allocated to help further, and has increased the overall investment to £9m.
Services for our most vulnerable
More than a quarter of the council’s budget is spent on social care – you wanted us to prioritise services that help our most vulnerable residents, so we’ve invested almost £1m into key adult and children support services.
This includes maintaining the short break provision at Oaklands respite and residential care home, and reducing the savings required within adult day opportunities, also known as the short break service at Spring Gardens. Additional money will also allow additional services to continue at Spring Gardens while a further review is carried out with the aim of setting the service on a stronger footing and working more efficiently in the future.
As well as this, £150k of existing reserves will be used so that changes to our services for people with a learning disability can be reviewed and tapered over the coming year.
Work has also been carried out to remodel the service delivered through the Cwtch Centre and the Barnardo’s partnership using radical reform grant funding. The current staff and all their experience and skills will be part of this remodelling. This means, in effect, that the savings proposal will be delayed by two years.
Other proposals removed by Cabinet include car parking charges at countryside locations (Glebelands, Christchurch viewing point, Morgan’s Pond and Bettws Lane) and charges for replacement residual waste bins.
By re-purposing reserves, the council will also provide temporary support to mental health service provider Growing Space for the next two years.
The Education Achievement Service (EAS) will also receive temporary support with a partial deferral on the proposed saving on the council’s annual contribution.
These will allow for service reviews and changes to take place which will provide better and more sustainable services in the future.
There will also be a one-off investment in the city centre to ensure continued support for businesses and recovery following the pandemic. This will include business rate support for eligible city centre businesses in 2023/24.
The full results of the budget consultation, information on where the councils funding comes from and how money is spent is available at newport.gov.uk/budget