Cardiff Council Update: 08 July 2022

It's a bumper edition of our latest update, covering: Stronger Fairer Greener, a renewed ambition for Cardiff; inflation putting a squeeze on the Council's budget; moving a step closer to expanding Pentyrch primary; creating more places in additional learning needs education; the Summer Reading Challenge is back for another year; a bilingual workforce for a bilingual capital; and we've unveiled our new agency worker policy.


Delivering a Stronger, Fairer and Greener Cardiff

A vision of a Stronger, Fairer and Greener Cardiff and the strategy to help deliver it over the next five years has been revealed by the city's leader.

In it, Cllr Huw Thomas, the leader of Cardiff Council, will share the vision with invited stakeholders and city partners at an event in Cardiff's Parkgate Hotel on Tuesday, July 19, where he will tell guests that he is intent on building a powerhouse economy in Cardiff that can benefit everyone as the cost-of-living crisis bites.

Cllr Thomas said: "Back in 2017 we launched our Capital Ambition policy vision and over the next five years we made great progress, bringing more and better jobs to the city, building new schools and improving education standards, but the world has changed significantly over this period.

"The Covid-19 pandemic created new problems and exacerbated existing challenges and, more recently, the war in Ukraine has threatened to prolong the current cost-of-living crisis. With the worst of the pandemic behind us it's time to focus on leading a city-wide recovery - which is why we are preparing to launch a new, ‘Stronger, Fairer, Greener,' five-year policy agenda for the city. Cabinet will consider this new policy agenda at its next meeting on Thursday, July 14, and on Tuesday, July 19, I will set out our vision for Cardiff to city partners and stakeholders at an event in the city centre."

The strategy includes contributions from all of the council's Cabinet members who outline how they will help deliver and implement it through 10 portfolios of responsibility.

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Cost-of-living crisis and inflation puts squeeze on Cardiff Council budget

Rising costs in energy, food and services mean that Cardiff Council is facing a £29m shortfall in its budget for 2023-24, a new report has warned.

As the public battle their own cost-of-living crisis, with petrol and gas and electricity prices reaching unprecedented levels and inflation forecast to hit 11% before the end of the summer, the authority is under similar pressure.

In March the council revealed that its 2023-24 budget gap - the difference between revenue and funds received from government and its predicted spending commitments - was almost £24m. Now, according to an update presented to Cabinet members, that figure has risen to just over £29m.

While expenditure in some areas has fallen since March a rise of more than £10m is accounted for by a general hike in prices, with energy, fuel and food costs most significant.

The Real Living Wage, to which the council is committed, is also predicted to rise in September, but expected inflationary rises across the board, reflected in things like building costs, for example, will also have an impact.

Looking ahead, the update predicts the budget gap will continue to put pressure on the council, with a shortfall in 2024-25 of around £24.4m, falling to £18.2m in 2026-27 - a total of more than £90m over the next four years.

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Expansion of Pentyrch Primary School moves step closer

Ambitious plans to increase the number of pupils at Pentyrch Primary School and establish 32 places in a new nursery unit for three-year-olds have moved a step closer.

After a wide-ranging public consultation process on the proposed changes took place in the winter, the plans were published in May.

Now the Council's Cabinet is to review objections at its meeting on Thursday 14 July and has been recommended to approve the works going ahead.

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Cardiff set to benefit from expansion of special education needs provision

Pupils across Cardiff are set to benefit from a wide-ranging expansion of special and additional learning needs education provision, with recommended proposals creating more than 270 additional spaces over the coming years.

A comprehensive consultation exercise into the special needs sector was carried out over the winter and Cardiff Council has now completed the statutory notice period for eight proposals. After receiving only two objections, each of the proposals have now been recommended for approval and the Council's Cabinet will debate the issue at its meeting next Thursday (July 14).

At the core of the plan is the creation of more than 200 additional places at eight schools across the city.

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Calling Cardiff bookworms - The Summer Reading Challenge is back!

The popular Summer Reading Challenge is back in Cardiff libraries and hubs this year as part of a Summer of Fun seeking to inspire children in the city to learn more about science and innovation.

The challenge is part of a fun-packed summer of activities and events in Cardiff libraries and hubs. This year there will be an added bonus with more activities and events taking place as part of the Welsh Government-supported Project Gadgeteer Summer of Fun programme.

The Gadgeteers is also the theme of the Summer Reading Challenge and once again children can sign up and read six books of their own choice, and have heaps of fun, over the summer months.

Six fictional gadgeteer characters - brought to life by children's writer and illustrator Julian Beresford - will be encouraging children aged 4 to 11 to use their curiosity and wonder to understand the science behind a whole range of every day interests, from fashion and technology to cooking and music.

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Developing a bilingual workforce for a bilingual capital

Cardiff Council is making significant strides in developing a bilingual workforce in the capital as the number of employees with Welsh language skills continues to rise.

Over the past 12 months, the number of staff working for the authority with Welsh language skills has increased by another 8.6% since 2020-21, and currently represents more than 14% of the workforce, excluding schools.

During 2021-22, there was also a 158% increase in the number of jobs advertised where Welsh language skills were an essential requirement and a more than 100% increase to almost 650 jobs that were advertised with Welsh skills as desirable.

The growth is representative of the work underway to achieve the vision of Cardiff being a truly bilingual capital city, where the Welsh language is embedded in the very fabric of every day life, and the Council's commitment to making the organisation an increasingly bilingual workplace, in order to support this aim.

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Cardiff Council unveils new agency worker policy

Cardiff Council is planning to make long-term agency workers permanent members of staff as part of its commitment to ‘Fair Work Wales'.

In its latest Corporate Plan, the council has pledged to reduce the number of agency workers on long-term assignments.

Under the new policy, all agency workers with at least four years' continuous assignment in the same service in the council will be offered a permanent contract without having to go through a recruitment process, subject to relevant pre-employment checks.

Those with at least two years', but less than four years', continuous assignment in the same service will be offered a temporary contract. Once the employee has completed four years - taking into account their agency service and temporary contract service - they will be treated as permanent.

The new policy also places a requirement on managers not to engage agency workers if they think the assignment will be for longer than 12 months, unless normal recruitment channels have been exhausted.

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