Budget keeps leader awake at night as crisis continues

By Chris Betteley   |   Reporter   |
Friday 29th July 2022 2:02 pm
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Future budgets are giving Cllr Bryan Davies sleepless nights as a report warns that the cost-of-living crisis continues in Ceredigion ‘unabated’

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FUTURE council budgets are giving Ceredigion council’s new leader sleepless night, a meeting has heard, as the cost-of-living crisis “continues unabated.”

At a meeting of Ceredigion County Council’s cabinet on Tuesday, 26 July, Cllr Bryan Davies said not many things keep him awake at night “but the budget for the future does keep me awake.”

Cabinet members were discussing a a controllable revenue budget outturn position report, which cabinet member for finance and procurement Cllr Gareth Davies said it was a “good position as far as the balance sheets are concerned.”

The final overall revenue position is an overall underspend on £668,000, a report to cabinet states, adding: “The overall surplus will result in General Balances rising to £6.7m, which equates to 4.1 per cent of the 2022/23 Budget.”

Concerns about inflation and pay increase pressures were highlighted and as well as the amount of Welsh Government funding in future.

“The Cost of Living crisis continues unabated,” the report said.

“The Council has made significant progress in implementing the Welsh Government’s Cost of Living scheme, having made £1.6m of

payments directly to around 10,500 households and enabled £1.3m of payments to around 8,700 households through the Post Office for those eligible households not on Direct debit.

“The council itself is experiencing unprecedented inflation pressures since the

2022/23 Budget was set.

“Managing the financial dynamics of Covid-19 has continued to be both challenging and resource intensive.

“The 2021/2022 performance continues to demonstrate though, that despite Covid-19, the Council’s overall financial position remains positive and

resilient, and the Council’s balance sheet is strong - notwithstanding that greater headwinds now exist.”

At the meeting, members heard that around 500 cost of living support payment vouchers are being cashed at Ceredigion Post Offices a day.

Ceredigion councillor Rhodri Evans said he was concerned that not everyone who was eligible were aware of the scheme currently being rolled-out across the county thanks to Welsh Government funding.

Around £1.5million of cost of living payments have been distributed in Ceredigion, the majority directly into eligible bank accounts, although there were nearly 9,000 residents that were set to receive payment vouchers.

Finance corporate lead officer Stephen Johnson told the meeting that Ceredigion was “in the top quartile” across Wales in “getting it out to everybody” and there was work underway to help those unable to access the payments with a few months available to complete the scheme.

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