12 things you need to know about Cardiff Council’s budget for 2019/20

  1. Cardiff is growing. Over the past decade around 34,600 people have moved here to live and the city's population is projected to grow by 20% by 2038. In fact, over the next 20 years your capital city is set to see a larger growth in population than all the other 21 local authorities in Wales put together. While growth is good for the city, it also places extra demands on public services, the city's infrastructure, its schools and its social services. More people means more school pupils and more older people who need cared for. These extra demand pressures are not being matched by government funding. Put simply Cardiff has more people to look after and less money to look after them.


  1. Your Council is facing a budget gap of £35.2m in the next financial year (2019/20) and a budget gap of £92.9m over the next three years. A budget gap is the difference between the amount of funding available and the amount needed to maintain services. This is not a new problem.  Almost a quarter of a billion pounds in cumulative savings have been made by the Council over the past ten years to bridge budget gaps and 1,600 full-time employees have left the authority as part of the budget savings over the past six years.



  1. Next year the Council has an overall budget of £609m. Of this £397m relates to social services and schools where demand continues to grow. There are other areas of the Council's budget, such as Council Tax support, that cannot readily be cut. This means that the majority of savings are being found from service budgets totalling just £113m. This £113m includes the budgets for highways, waste, parks, back office staff and other non-statutory services. These areas have taken the brunt of cuts over the past decade and will bear most of the savings required in 2019/20 - around 70%.


  1. While the settlement from Welsh Government for 2019/20 is slightly more favourable than we budgeted for - a 0.4% rise or £1.658m extra - it is still a cut in real terms because of inflation and rising demand pressures.  This will leave your Council having to a bridge a budget gap of £35.2m next year.



  1. The Council is now consulting with residents on its plans for bridging that £35.2m gap in order to enable many services, including non-statutory services like libraries and the youth service, to continue. Raising council tax and increasing charges for services are among only a few levers the Council can use to help bridge the gap £35.2m gap.


  1. Despite having made almost a quarter of a billion pounds of savings over the past decade, Cardiff continues to have to make significant cuts to close the budget gap.  Below you can see how the Council plans to make up that £35.2m budget gap in 2019/20.



  1. While safeguarding frontline services the authority will look to find £19m in savings and income generation.


  1. The budget assumes Council Tax will go up by 4.3%, an increase of 95 pence a week on a Band D property. This will bring in an extra £5.8m to set against the £32.5m budget gap.



  1. The Council will use £2.5m in reserves. This is cash the Council has in the bank like savings. We have to exercise caution in using reserves as once it's gone, it's gone.


  1. The authority will also use up £4m it has set aside as a financial resilience mechanism (FRM). This is money put to one side to help the Council deal with uncertainty around the funding level that it might receive from Welsh Government. Government funding is decided annually and might rise or fall. An FRM is a one-off investment designed to help the budget if the Government hands out less than expected.



  1. In the budget the Council is proposing giving an additional £10.2m to schools in 2019/2020on top of the £231m they already receive. This is an increase of 4.4%. However, rising pupil numbers, along with pay and price costs, means the additional cost of delivering education in the city is estimated to be £13.8m.


  1. Finally, despite the cuts and savings over the past decade, two independent reviews have found that Cardiff Council is continuing to make improvements in key service areas and is jointly the most-improved Council in Wales. When the Welsh Local Government Association compared all 22 local authorities in Wales while compiling their latest Public Accountability Measures, Cardiff Council came joint first in terms of areas where performance had improved. The Council also had the fewest number of indicators where performance had got worse. Cardiff Council is also meeting its requirements in terms of continuous improvement according to an annual report by the Wales Audit Office (WAO).

The budget consultation runs for six weeks from Friday November 16 until Thursday, January 2. If you'd like to have your say you can take part in the consultation on the Council's website or pick up a copy of the consultation document in your local hub or library. You can also read more about the budget proposals for 2019/20 on the Council's website here on the Cardiff Newsroom website here