RCT’s 2019/20 Budget Set

A further £173m of capital investment is set to be delivered in Rhondda Cynon Taf to support the delivery of the Labour Group’s core manifesto commitments, after the Labour-led Council’s budget proposals were given approval by a majority of Members.

On Wednesday, 6th March, Full Council met to set the Council’s Revenue Budget for the 2019/20 financial year and consider plans to extend the Council’s #RCTInvest capital programme, which has delivered unprecedented levels of investment into the County Borough, for another three years.

In the last four financial years (2015/16 to 2018/19), the Labour-led Council has delivered almost £365m worth of capital investment into core priority areas, including over £170m into schools; £85m into highways, strategic projects and transportation; £15m into parks, play areas, leisure centres, and outdoor leisure facilities; and £29m into economic growth and regeneration – showing that despite Tory austerity, Labour’s careful management of RCT’s finances are allowing for all of the core priority areas to receive significant investment.

The 2019/20 budget will also see RCT have the lowest increase in council tax of any Welsh Authority for the second consecutive year, with a 3.6% rise allowing key frontline services to be protected. In 2018/19, RCT residents on average paid the sixth lowest council tax amounts per dwelling in Wales and, following Labour’s careful financial management, RCT residents will now pay the 4th lowest amounts after rises in Pembrokeshire (9.92% increase) and Merthyr (5.99% increase), which are both Independent-controlled Authorities, will now see residents in both Local Authority areas paying more there than those residing in Rhondda Cynon Taf will. In addition, Tory controlled Monmouthshire will implement a 5.95% increase, whilst Independent-led Powys will opt for a 9.6% rise and Plaid-led Ceredigion will increase council tax bills by 7%.

True to form, opposition parties were yet again content to attempt to criticise Labour’s budget without coming forward with any alternatives or money saving proposals of their own. For the SEVENTH consecutive year, with all but two of the Plaid Cymru group once again sitting on their hands in abstaining on the Revenue Budget – despite being elected to stand up for residents and represent their communities.

Labour’s Leader of the Council, Councillor Andrew Morgan, commented: “Once again, the Labour Group has been able to set a legally balanced budget for the forthcoming year, thanks to our careful management of Council finances. We understand that, despite the false proclamations of the Conservative UK Government, austerity is here to stay and it continues to have a severely detrimental impact on both the public sector and residents across the UK.

“It is absolutely clear that this is a political choice but both the Welsh Labour Government and this Labour administration are working hard to protect residents and the vital local services that they rely on from the harshest effects of the cuts.

“I’m pleased to say that, in the main, our budget for 2019/20 will see no service cuts and once again we will be setting what looks like the lowest council tax rise of any Welsh Local Authority for the second successive year. This rise is still considerably below the average that residents indicated they would be willing to accept in the recent budget consultation, in which over 4,000 people responded, and it will also allow us to allocate extra investment to core priority areas such as the £5.2m increase in the school budget and an additional £6.4m for Community and Children’s Services – which includes social care.

“Once again we have been able to exceed our ambitious efficiency target of £6m and this builds on the £7m successfully achieved in the last financial year. As always, we will first look to the way in which the Council operates and conducts its business before transferring any further burden to residents as we realise that the effects of austerity are the most visible and tangible to our communities.

“On top of this, I am pleased to confirm that our £173m three-year capital programme will allow us to continue going over and above in the delivery of all of our 12 core commitments. The levels of investment in this County are now unprecedented and this Labour administration is continuing to demonstrate our ambition in the face of challenging economic times.”

 

A spokesperson for the RCT Labour Group added: “It is absolutely shocking that, for the seventh consecutive year, opposition parties in RCT decided to once again sit on their hands and abstain on the Council’s Revenue Budget for 2019/20, barring the two Members of the Plaid Group who voted with Labour Members in favour of the proposals. Despite being elected to stand up for residents and their communities, they are once again unwilling to take any responsibility and come forward with any suggestions for saving money.”