Carmarthenshire County Council has set its revenue budget for the next financial year.
It includes an investment of £500,000 to support schools and a commitment to boost the pay for the council’s lowest paid workers.
Council Tax will increase by 4.45 per cent to help the council meet the cost of providing public services, equating to a rise of less than £1 per week (£4.25 per month over the year), for an average Band D property.
Councillors met on Wednesday (February 21, 2018) to agree the budget put forward by the executive board following public consultation.
Plans are now moving forward to ensure its lowest paid employees are paid the equivalent to the Foundation Living Wage which is currently £8.75 an hour.
All non-teaching staff will receive an increase of two per cent from April 1, in advance of the implementation of the nationally negotiated Pay Award.
Teachers are covered by separate national pay arrangements.
Proposed cuts to respite care and inclusion services had already been taken off the table by Executive Board – having listened to public feedback.
A proposed reduction in funding for older people’s day care services has been scaled back, with the efficiencies for 2018/19 reduced by £50k, and a further £25k in 2019/20.
Cllr David Jenkins, executive board member for resources, said: “This budget responds to the majority of the concerns which were raised from the significant consultation which was undertaken. We have tried to listen to the public’s concerns and also ensure as far as possible that service levels and standards are maintained and recognised.”
Council Leader Cllr Emlyn Dole added: “Our commitment to supporting the lowest paid members of staff has been shown in this budget. It is the first time the council has committed to achieve the Foundation Living Wage.”
Protecting schools from budget cuts was a key priority of the council’s executive board. The schools’ delegated budget will be held at £108.7m for 2018-19, with an additional £500,000 ‘invest to save fund’ being made available to support schools in making efficiency improvements.
The council had carried out extensive consultation as part of the budget process, including an online surveys with the public, meetings with councillors, school representatives and trade unions, and feedback from young people in schools through an Insight programme.
• To watch the full debate and access the agenda documents about the budget strategy, visit the council and democracy section of the council’s website