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Education, social care and regeneration top budget priority list

Swansea Council has warned it faces tough budget choices to close a £22.1m funding gap next year.


The council will soon be launching its public consultation on budget proposals against an unprecedented background of reduced funding and rising demand for services, particularly in social care.

A report to Cabinet on December 14 says the council is determined to target its resources towards what matters most to the public like education, social care and economic regeneration.

The proposals being seen by Cabinet are being published against a backdrop of £60m of savings achieved in the last five years with another £80m plus needed in the next four years.

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council said: "Despite the UK Government's austerity agenda we are still investing £1.6m every day providing services that make the difference in people's lives like safeguarding the vulnerable, tackling poverty and caring for our ageing population.

"Over the coming years the council intends to focus on priorities like attracting thousands of new, high-tech jobs to the area as part of the £1.3bn City Deal. This investment paves the way for realising our ambition to be a digital city with new retail areas, modern office space and the creation of 10,000 jobs.

"Related to that is the investment in education and skills so our children can take advantage of new jobs coming our way. To do that we must build new schools that are fit for the 21st century and give young people the education and skills they need.

"That's why we're earmarking £100m for a new generation of school-buildings. We will continue to prioritise education above all services and we will increase our funding for schools so that our children can grow up with the best chance to make the most of their skills and talents."

Despite the reductions in funding, the council will still be spending more than £100m next year on social services and in excess of £170m on education, the lion's share of which will go directly to schools in delegated budgets.

The council also plans to increase its direct budget on tackling the poverty gap as to help provide more support for families and better childcare services.

Cllr Stewart said that while the Council is doing more with less because the council is becoming smarter, leaner and more efficient, difficult choices about budgets will have to be made.

He said: "The amount we raise in council tax only covers the cost of social services and next year the gap between what we have and the funding pressures we have to deal with is £22.1m.

"We have to bridge that gap and we'll continue to protect frontline services by earmarking millions of pounds in savings from management and back-office services.

 "The challenge ahead is unprecedented. By 2021 Swansea and every council in Wales will have experienced a decade of budget real-terms reductions.

"We have risen to that challenge by radically changing what we do and how we do it to protect rather than salami-slice services. We're going to continue delivering for the people of Swansea."

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