Cardiff's budget a boost for youth, schools and future generations


A budget designed to protect and enhance opportunities for future generations, help tackle the Climate Emergency and set Wales' capital city on the path to becoming a carbon free city has been proposed by Cardiff Council. 

Despite having to make almost £10m in savings the proposals would see more money being spent on prioritising key services for the city's future including green energy and transport projects, Cardiff's schools, youth services, children's and adults' social services, and looked after children. 

The budget proposals for 2020/21 include:

  • A £333m investment in social housing including new council homes (under a five year capital programme);
  • £248.4m to build new schools under the 21stCentury band B programme (between now and 2024, with 50/50 funding from Cardiff Council and Welsh Government);
  • A £78.4m investment to develop strategic cycle routes, improve transport infrastructure and encourage walking and cycling in the city;
  • A £46.4m investment in the existing schools estate;
  • £10.4m additional support for schools to cover costs (4.3% annual increase);
  • A £14.6m spend on sustainable-energy generation projects;
  • £6.3m to address flooding and coastal erosion;
  • A £3.2m commitment to boost recycling and neighbourhood services;
  • £7m additional support for Children's Services and £4m for Adult Services;
  • £500,000 additional support for the Cardiff Commitment and Child Friendly Cities;
  • £450,000 of funding for youth provision;
  • £150,000 additional support to provide mentor support and tuition for looked after children.

Cllr Chris Weaver, Cabinet Member for Finance, Modernisation and Performance, said: "We want to bring forward a budget which protects future generations, protects young people and the vulnerable, and one which begins to set out our stall on how we can begin to tackle the climate emergency here in Cardiff. 

"Welsh Government wants all local authorities in Wales to be carbon neutral by 2030. It's a challenge we wholeheartedly accept and one we want the city to take up too. I think everyone realises that things have to change and it's important as a council, and as Wales' capital city, that we take a leading role. Later this year we will be bringing forward a One Planet Cardiff strategy which will lay out the work we've done to date around the climate emergency and set out a vision for how we achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. There is lots to do but we have the energy and focus to deliver on this agenda and to make the changes that will be required." 

The budget has also set aside £333m for investment in affordable social housing, including new council homes. The council has promised to build 1,000 new council homes by 2022 and has plans for another 1,000 to follow after that, and workon a housing development of the future that will deliver more than 200 low carbon homes starts next month. 

The innovative scheme,the largest development inCardiff Council's Cardiff Living partnership with Wates Residential, will deliver 214 new properties - 65 council homes - on the former site of Eastern high school off Newport Road. They will be gas-free properties drawing heat from ground source heat pumps, energy from solar panels and will all have electric vehicle charge points. They are expected to average a 95% improvement against current, buildings regulations energy-performance standards. Council leader, Cllr Huw Thomas, has said he wants to work with Welsh Government to upscale this sort of development from 200 homes to 20,000. 

Cardiff Council's budget proposals for future generations also includes support for schools, young people and the vulnerable. 

In partnership with Welsh Government £248m will be spent over the nextfive years on building new schools under the 21stCentury Schools Band B programme and there will be a further £43.4m investment in the existing schools estate. 

Children's services will receive an extra £7.1m to deal with increased demand and an additional £3.75m will be made available over the next five years - on top of a £3.8m annual budget - for disabled adaptations grants to enable people to live independently in their own homes. 

Cllr Weaver said: "We did receive a better than expected settlement from Welsh Government which has enabled us to continue to deliver the services that really matter to residents. We have also set funds aside for cleaner streets (£1.4m) and improvements to our parks (£0.5m). 

"However, despite the extra cash from Welsh Government we still have to make almost £10m in savings. That £10m represents the money we need to find to keep our services running at the level residents expect, while being able to meet the increased demand that a growing and ageing population brings. We have identified almost £250m in savings in the past 10 years so it is becoming increasingly challenging to return to a well which is beginning to run dry. We have, however, identified efficiency savings of more than £5m but we will have to look to increase some costs for some services." 

The Council will find the required £10m by:

Making efficiency savings of £5m

Generating income - £2.5m

Making changes to service delivery - £2.5m 

Cllr Weaver said: In the past two years council tax went up by 5% and 4.9% but we've been able to reduce that to a 4.5% increase this year. This will mean a Band D property owner will pay an extra £1.05 a week. Whilst we know that's a difficult decision, thiswill enable us to continue to deliver the services our residents want, including cleaner neighbourhoods, tackling homelessness and rough sleeping, while protecting school budgets. 

Cllr Weaver, added "On top of the money we making available for new schools and improvements to older schools, we are also increasing the schools' budget by 4.3%, that's £10.4m more for schools next year. 

"Cardiff schools are now producing some of the best results in the country and taking great strides forward. We are determined to give our young people every opportunity which is why we are also releasing £500,000 for the Cardiff Commitment and Child Friendly Cities projects, and a further £450,000 for much-needed youth provision in the city.  Looked after children will also benefit from an additional £150,000 to provide mentor support and tuition. 

"We will, however, ask schools to make efficiency savings of 0.5% or around £1.2m. We think it is important schools look at their budgets carefully to ensure they are getting value for money in everything that they do and we will work closely with them to help them manage their budgets as effectively as possible." 

More than 2,000 residents took part in the budget consultation which sought views on everything from mowing regimes to increases for school meals. 

The proposals mean that the costs of some services could rise, including:

  • A 10p increase on school meals;
  • Cost of burials rising from £760 to £810;
  • Cost of cremation rising from £640 to £700.

Cllr Weaver said: "In the face of the cuts and the growing demand for services this is never an easy process. But we believe we have created a budget which sets us on a path to begin tackling the Climate Emergency while setting and agenda that will create a fairer Cardiff, one where young people will have a great chance to progress. It safeguards the services that really matter to residents and allows us to pump some much needed money into services which have suffered from years of austerity. It allows us to continue to deliver on our Capital Ambition agenda to create a city of real equality and opportunity, a city with more and better jobs, a city which we are determined to see thrive and prosper." 

The proposals will now go forward to Full Council for approval on Thursday, February 27.