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Agenda item

Difficult Decisions 2018/19 and 2019/20 - Reshaping Services/Budget Consultation

To consider the report of the Lead Member for People – Communities, Partnerships, Public Protection and Community Safety

Decision:

 

RESOLVED –

 

(i)         That the approach to the Difficult Decisions consultation exercise be approved.

 

(ii)        That the inclusion of the savings proposals, outlined in Appendix 1 of report

HF/92/17 be approved for consultation.

 

(iii)       That this matter be dealt with as an urgent item of business in accordance with Section 43(1) of the Council’s Standing Orders.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(i)         To enable the Council to take account of people’s views before finalising the Council’s revenue budget for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 financial years.

 

(ii)        To enable the consultation to commence on 25 October 2017.

 

Minutes:

(Members declarations of interest in relation to this item are set out in Minute 52 above)

 

The Lead Member for People – Communities, Partnerships, Public Protection and Community Safety submitted a report (HF/92/17) asking Members to agree the approach for this years ‘Difficult Decisions’ consultation which includes plans to reshape services and specific budget proposals for 2018/19 and 2019/20.

 

The Lead Member presented the report and a detailed debate took place.  During discussions, the following points were raised:

 

·         Disappointment expressed by some Members in relation to the budget setting process and that some sections of the proposed budget had not been considered by the relevant Scrutiny Committee but were being considered in workshops.  In response, Members were reminded of the scrutiny process contained within the Council’s Constitution in which Members could request items be considered for discussion, through the submission of a Topic Request Form.

·         Recognition of the difficult position that the Council were in, and the suggestion was made that other ways of raising additional money to avoid further cuts needed to be looked at.  Whilst acknowledging that families were struggling, it was suggested that Members could look into the possibility of increasing Council Tax more than in previous years in order to reduce the financial pressure on other much valued services.

·         Confirmation that the Council’s Communications Team would be communicating various elements of the budget to the public to raise awareness and ensure they have the opportunity to respond fully to the consultation.

·         Suggestion made that the number of Senior Councillor positions could be reviewed.

·         Possibility of reviewing the Council’s Waste Services Contract was suggested.  Officers advised that the Customers, Performance, Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee would be looking at the current revenue budget and arrangements for the PFI Waste Services Contact.  However, the service was currently delivering recycling rates that were below Welsh Government targets, and any penalties associated with withdrawing from the contract could be significant.

·         Confirmation was given that the final settlement would be announced on 20 December by Welsh Government, where it was hoped that further detailed information may be available, in particular, with regards to funding pay awards for staff and teachers.

·         Suggestion made that shared services with other Authorities should continue to be explored.

·         Suggestion that in relation to Adult Social Care, eligibility criteria was still referred to in the document, even though the criteria no longer applied.  The Lead Member for People – Health and Adult Social Care advised that the criteria stopped when the Social Care and Wellbeing Act was introduced.  Service users were now assessed on an individual basis and assessed for services based on their needs.

·         There was an expectation expressed that every School would feed into the budget process and that each School Governing Body would understand what their individual budget pressures were.  Officers advised that the provisional settlement protected the position of Schools to the extent they weren’t suffering reductions in budget.  Schools are consulted with through the School Budget Forum.

·         Confirmation sought that any additional savings identified would be presented at an All Member Workshop before a final decision on the budget was made.

·         Clarification sought in relation to what plans were in place to support advice services following the introducing of Universal Credit.  The Lead Member for People – Communities, Partnerships, Public Protection and Community Safety advised that he would be meeting with the Citizens Advice Bureau to discuss any issues with them.

·         Acknowledgement given that significant improvement was being achieved in the town centre, and through working in partnership with the Police and Health Authority, where the vulnerable users of NPS (New Psychoactive Substances) were beginning to make progress in their pathways to recovery.  It was said that a number of other towns/cities in the UK were taking note of what was happening here as Wrexham were at the forefront of having a programme to enable these people to get into recovery.

 

RESOLVED –

 

(i)         That the approach to the Difficult Decisions consultation exercise be approved.

 

(ii)        That the inclusion of the savings proposals, outlined in Appendix 1 of             report HF/92/17 be approved for consultation.

 

(iii)       That this matter be dealt with as an urgent item of business in accordance with Section 43(1) of the Council’s Standing Orders.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(i)         To enable the Council to take account of people’s views before finalising the Council’s revenue budget for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 financial years.

 

(ii)        To enable the consultation to commence on 25 October 2017.

 

Supporting documents: