Politics

Council budget difficulties to be shared with all political group leaders

Powys County Council

Powys County Council leader, Lib Dem Councillor James Gibson-Watt made the commitment to share the details at the authority’s cabinet meeting today.

It followed criticism from Conservative and opposition group leader, Councillor Aled Davies, that information was not being made available.

It came as the Cabinet were discussing the 2022/23 budget position as it stood at the end of September.

With two quarters of the fiscal year left, Powys faces a gap of more than £7million in its revenue budget of £302 million.

Finance portfolio holder, Labour’s Councillor David Thomas explained that money from council financial reserves will be used to plug the gap.

Mr Davies said: “Can the portfolio holder spell out exactly what services will be cut back and what capital programmes will be shelved or delayed?”

Mr Thomas said: “The detail of where services and capital programmes will be cut is a work in progress.

“As soon as the detail is available, I will be more than happy to share it.”

Mr Davies said: “We need information and we’ve been starved of it.”

Mr Gibson-Watt said: “I’m very grateful for your commitment to get us through these difficulties that we’re experiencing.

“Nothing is certain at the moment, and it’s hoped the Chancellor’s statement on November 17 will clarify matters.

“Getting some certainty out of the Westminster Government would be a step forward even if it’s likely to make life more difficult than it already is.

“In many ways we’re just as much in the dark as you are.”

Earlier, the council’s head of finance Jane Thomas warned councillors of the need to use the financial reserves sparingly as they will be needed to plug gaps in future budgets.

Ms Thomas said: “We’re facing a considerable challenge to balance this year’s budget.

“We’ve taken action which is demonstrated in some of the reductions we are seeing and need to look further and mitigate the use of reserves as much as possible.

“The environment we are working is challenging and it not going to end on March 31 next year,

“We are heading to a challenging budget setting period over the next few years.

“It’s important that we limit the use of reserves so that we hold some through to those years that will add to our financial resilience.”.

It is predicted that the council’s financial reserves will be down to £49.8 million by the end of March 2023.

The report was noted and virements approved by the cabinet.

Source By https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/local-hubs/mid-wales/2022/11/08/council-budget-difficulties-to-be-shared-with-all-political-group-leaders/