Gwynedd Council’s Chief Executive, Dilwyn Williams, has warned the council face an almost impossible task protecting services as they face a £13 million ‘financial gap’ during the next year alone.
The Council Cabinet will meet on 18 December to consider the steps they will need to implement to cope with the funding gap the authority will face over the coming years.
For some time now, the Council has been warning that the cut in the funding that Gwynedd receives by the government is likely to have far-reaching effects on the Council’s ability to provide services for the county’s residents from April 2019 onwards.
In preparation for working out a new financial strategy, the Council carried out an engagement exercise during the autumn to find out people’s opinions on which local services are the most important to them.
A total of 2,553 Gwynedd people and organisations took part in the exercise and the main messages received will be given full consideration as Gwynedd councillors agree on the financial strategy over the coming months.
Dilwyn Williams, Gwynedd Council’s Chief Executive, said: “It is clear by now that the financial situation facing Gwynedd Council over the coming years is more challenging than ever. Indeed, the final confirmation from the government regarding the settlement for 2019/20 is close to the most extreme levels we predicted and we face a financial gap of £13 million for next year alone.
“As a Council we have been cutting back on spending for more than a decade, but we are now approaching the limit of what is possible without having to implement deep cuts. As Chief Executive, I believe that what is being proposed in the report to the Cabinet limits the cuts for 2019/20 to the minimum, but as we look ahead to the future there is a serious risk that this won’t be sufficient for the 2020/21 period onwards.
“What is clear from the recent engagement exercise is that many of the public services which the Council provides are important or essential to Gwynedd people or to a specific group or community within the county.
“In accordance with what residents have said, the report that will be presented to the Cabinet will recommend that the Council implements a further £1.5 million of efficiency savings to the Council’s central services in order to safeguard frontline services as much as possible. As an extra step to prevent cutting services, we will also consider various ways of increasing income, something that possibly will not be popular with everyone, but is a step that will allow councillors to defend additional frontline services.
“The challenging task for councillors over the coming weeks and months will be to consider the various possible options before agreeing as a full Council on the final financial strategy for 2019/20. As part of the process, there will be a further opportunity early in the new year for the people of Gwynedd to present their comments on the detailed proposals.
“The task set for local government members is now almost impossible as they have to decide which of the services that are important to the people of Gwynedd to cut back on and by now they don’t have a lot of choice. This is not why they entered local government.”
Gwynedd Council’s Cabinet will be considering the matter at their meeting on 18 December. Following this, every Gwynedd councillor will be considering all of the possible proposals to meet the financial deficit, and the county’s residents will have an opportunity to respond to the detailed proposals early in the new year.
At the end of the process, all Gwynedd councillors will agree on the financial strategy for 2019/20 in their meeting on 7 March 2019.