Agenda item



(NOTE: Councillors A Vaughan Owen, Ll.M. Davies, N. Evans, R. Evans, M.D. Cranham, G. Morgan, T. Higgins, J.P. Hart, F. Walters, D. Nicholas, L.R. Bowen, C.A. Jones, D. Cundy, E. Skinner, R. Sparks, L. Roberts. M. Palfreman, B. Davies, T.A.J. Davies, P.M. Hughes, A. Davies, J. Lewis, R. James, K. Madge, E. Rees and S. Godfrey-Coles had earlier declared an interest in this item remained in the meeting and took part in the discussion and voting thereon).


Council was informed that the Cabinet, at its meeting held on the 19th February 2024 (Minute 6 Refers) had considered the Revenue Budget Strategy 2024/25 – 2026/27 and made a number of recommendations, as detailed within the report of the Director of Corporate Services, for Council’s consideration.


The report summarised the latest budgetary position, providing an update on the budget validation, spending pressures, the Welsh Government final settlement and the responses from the budget consultation.


In presenting the report, the Cabinet Member for Resources stated that adopting the proposals detailed in the report would allow the Council to provide a fair and balanced budget, which responded to the views fed back from the consultation process. However, he felt it was incumbent upon him to highlight the inherent risks within the strategy in addition to the uncertainties over future pay awards and inflation which must be accepted as a normal part budget setting.


A number of risks were identified as a consequence of the unresolved funding of both teachers’ and firefighters’ pensions, the delivery risk of investments into Children’s Services and the delivery risk of the budget reductions across all areas of council services.



In addition, it was emphasised that this budget was possibly one of the most difficult in this Council’s history and voiced his concern that it was a very challenging time with Local Authorities being put in the impossible position of trying to deliver frontline services whilst continuing to put up with cuts from central government.  There was a duty on all Councillors over the next few months to make the case about the importance of local government and public services generally and the need for additional investment because what we have at the moment was just not sustainable.


It was emphasised that, in setting the budget, work was endured to try and protect front line services whilst trying to keep any Council Tax increase to a minimum and whilst 7.5% was higher than desired it was much better than some other Local Authorities who were facing double digit rises in council tax with some facing bankruptcy.


The Cabinet Member expressed his sincere thanks to all who took part in the consultation or responded to the surveys.  Also, for the commitment and engagement of fellow councillors who participated in the budget seminars in such a positive spirit, despite the huge challenges ahead. The budget proposals were also examined in detail by the Scrutiny Committees.


It was reported that in general, those who took part in the consultation process appreciated that difficult choices need to be made. Based on those results, the Cabinet agreed to make a number of adjustments to next year’s budget, with a total value of £1.95m. These were in response to the feedback from both public and Councillors who took part in the consultation process. Within this figure was included provision to defer several proposals, including:


-   £1m of the reduction applied to schools budgets.


-   to defer more than £400k of savings to highways and flood defence budgets, recognising concern from councillors


-   defer the proposed reductions of £100,000 each to Youth support services and music services in schools, and over £200,000 to funding for public conveniences, pending asset transfer option consultation.


It was highlighted that the small additional sum from the Welsh Government was insufficient to respond to the consultation as outlined in the report. Therefore, it was proposed to take £1m from the RSG reserve to provide some additional time for schools to deliver the changes necessary in the best way possible according to individual circumstances.


The Cabinet Member for Resources confirmed that, should all the proposals outlined in the report be implemented, the Council could provide a Budget Strategy which:-

·        responds to the consultation;

·        ensures, as far as possible, that service levels and standards are maintained;

·        recognises that the people of Carmarthenshire are finding it hard in the current climate and so ensures that core services are protected; and

·        as far as possible, prepares the Authority for the uncertainties that may lieahead.

References were made to the seriousness of the situation that the Authority was faced with and to the fact that the Council and officers were trying to do the very best for the residents of Carmarthenshire during a very challenging period. 

Members thanked officers and the Cabinet Member for Resources for their work on the budget over the past few months. 


A number of statements were made in response to the proposals of the revenue budget strategy and raised their acknowledgement in regard to the challenges and difficulties in setting this year’s budget, balancing it with the current financial climate whilst maintaining quality services for the Carmarthenshire residents and visitors.




8.1.1     that the Budget Strategy for 2024/25, which includes the amendments at paragraph 4.1.5, be approved;


8.1.2     to approve the Band D Council Tax for 2024/25 of £1,602.80 (an increase of 7.5%);


8.1.3     to approve the removal of specific savings proposals as identified in paragraph 3.2.7;


8.1.4     to approve the use of £3m from the RSG reserve, being £2m to support temporary costs of commissioned residential children’s placements and £1m to support the delegated schools budget, as outlined in paragraph 5.2.3;


8.1.5     to approve the Medium-Term Financial Plan which will form the basis of future years’ planning;


8.1.6     that authority be delegated to the Director of Corporate Services, in consultation with the Chief Executive, Leader and Cabinet Member for Resources, to make any amendments necessary as a consequence of the WG final settlement due on 27th February 2024.


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