Scrutiny of the Council’s Budget

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The Service Improvement & Finance Panel met in February to discuss the Annual Budget proposals and considered the various reports presented to Cabinet on 17 February. Councillor Chris Holley, Convenor of the Panel, attended the Cabinet meeting and presented the Panel’s findings and feedback received from the Social Services and Education Scrutiny Panels focussing on proposals specific to these areas.

Overall, the Panel welcomed the large increase in budget provision, noting this was the largest such increase in recent years.

The Panel also welcomed an increase in spending in Education and Social Services, and additional spending to invest in services in Swansea that have experienced some reductions over recent years in line with constrained budgets. Panel Members expressed hope in that this year’s funding will help with repairs to the infrastructure across Swansea.

Panel Members noted however that this will be a one-off large increase in funds and figures are not reflected equally across the three-year plan. Caution will be needed moving forward, and the Capital Equalisation Reserve may not be able to be topped up with the increased investment levels it has seen since 2016.

Concerns were raised by the Education Panel regarding the potentially inadequate funding form Welsh Government for:

  • The phased roll out of Free School Meal provision to all primary pupils
  • The emerging implications of the Additional Learning Needs Act

Concerns were also raised about the potential change to the proxy measure that is based upon Free School Meal allocation which is the indicator used for extra funding in schools for vulnerable pupils. The Panel is keen to see how this will be addressed in upcoming policy changes from Welsh Government so vulnerable children do not lose out.

Panel Members also discussed concerns about the rising energy costs for schools and would like see schools switching to more green solutions, where it is feasible.

To keep up with the discussion on the Council’s Budget proposals including the expected response from Councillor Rob Stewart, Cabinet Member for Economy Finance and Strategy to the points raised at this meeting please click here.

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