Coun­cil tax will rise af­ter £2m over­spend

Bangor Mail - - NEWS - Cllr John Grif­fith

RATEPAYERS could face year-on-year coun­cil tax hikes of at least 4%, with­An­gle­sey Coun­cil set to over­spend its an­nual bud­get by over £2 mil­lion.

With the leader an­nounc­ing last week that the coun­cil faces cuts of over £8m over the next five years, of­fi­cers at Llangefni now face futher fi­nan­cial headaches due to the chal­lenges fac­ing its Chil­dren’s Ser­vice de­part­ment.

The ser­vice was slammed in a re­port by the Care and So­cial Ser­vices In­spec­torate Wales (CSSIW) fol­low­ing an in­spec­tion last Novem­ber, with an im­prove­ment plan cur­rently in place.

Much of the over­spend is as a re­sult of hav­ing to se­cure agency fos­ter place­ments – which can cost £220,000 a year per child, with de­mand heav­ily out­strip­ping the num­ber of car­ers on the is­land.

Dur­ing a meet­ing of the author­ity’s ex­ec­u­tive on Mon­day, it came to light that by the end of March, the ser­vice looks set to over­spend its bud­get by around £2.1 mil­lion, which may mean the coun­cil hav­ing to dig into its re­serves.

But in fur­ther bad news for ratepayers, de­ci­sion mak­ers have warned that is­lan­ders could face an­nual coun­cil tax hikes of up to 5% year-on-year as it tries to make up the short­fall of on­go­ing cuts in its an­nual grant from Cardiff Bay.

Ac­cord­ing to fi­nance port­fo­lio holder Cllr John Grif­fith, the coun­cil has seen a 8.1% cut in its block grant from the Welsh Gov­ern­ment since 2014, a pat­tern he ex­pects to con­tinue as re­sult of the UK Gov­ern­ment’s aus­ter­ity pro­gramme.

“We’re also fac­ing ex­tra pres­sures as re­sult of the na­tional min­i­mum wage and an age­ing pop­u­la­tion. Our num­ber of looked af­ter chil­dren is also grow­ing an­nu­ally,” he said.

“I think we will have to con­sider rais- A LARGE swan was safely res­cued from a road on An­gle­sey in a scene rem­i­nis­cent of hit com­edy film Hot Fuzz.

Of­fi­cers were called at 2.43pm last Tues­day to re­ports of an an­i­mal in the mid­dle of the A545, Beau­maris Road, near the petrol sta­tion in Me­nai Bridge.

North Wales Po­lice con­firmed the of­fi­cer had some luck catch­ing that swan, who was un­harmed.

The an­i­mal was led to a lay-by while the of­fi­cer awaited the RSPCA.

In the movie Hot Fuzz a re­cur­ring joke sees po­lice of­fi­cers Nick An­gel and Danny But­ter­man try­ing to ing coun­cil tax by 4% over the next three years. We must con­sider dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions, which al­though un­pop­u­lar, will have to be made.”

Each 1% of coun­cil tax rises equates to ap­prox­i­mately £350,000 for the author­ity, which cur­rently makes up just over 26% of its in­come. Deputy leader Cllr Ieuan Wil­liams, added: “I don’t want to see many cuts in ed­u­ca­tion and other ser­vices. I’d like to see us in­vest­ing, so we may have to even con­sider con­sult­ing on 5% rises.

“I know that won’t be pop­u­lar, but upon ex­plain that we’ve cut ev­ery­thing we can and want to look af­ter the vul­ner­a­ble and en­sure high ed­u­ca­tion stan­dards, we may have to con­sider the un­pop­u­lar.”

In re­sponse to the Chil­dren’s Ser­vice over­spend, a coun­cil spokesman said: “Our chil­dren’s ser­vices are cur­rently track down an er­rant swan in the fic­tional town of Sand­ford.

The pair are asked if they have any luck find­ing the an­i­mals, to which PC But­ter­man (played by Nick Frost) replies: “It’s just the one swan ac­tu­ally.”

Liam Evans from Ban­gor saw the swan and called 101 to re­port it.

He said: “I work for Waitrose’s de­liv­ery team and spot­ted the swan while out and about in the van.

“I called in to re­port it and con­tin­ued with my de­liv­er­ies, I’m glad it’s okay. When I saw it, it in­stantly re­minded me of Hot Fuzz.” go­ing through a re­struc­tur­ing process, fo­cused on pre­ven­ta­tive work and sup­port­ing chil­dren to re­main liv­ing at home safely, where pos­si­ble.

“The sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in chil­dren be­ing looked af­ter is the main rea­son why the ser­vice is over­spend­ing. The ser­vice is ad­her­ing closely to thresh­olds to be­gin care pro­ceed­ings, and en­ter­ing into pro­ceed­ings at an ear­lier stage than in the past, which has con­trib­uted to this in­crease.

“The ser­vice has also seen a 72% in­crease in chil­dren who are sub­ject to Full Care Or­ders over the last three years. De­mand is out­strip­ping re­sources and we are un­able to re­cruit enough lo­cal author­ity fos­ter car­ers to meet the de­mand of chil­dren com­ing into the care sys­tem.

“This means the chil­dren are hav­ing to be placed in agency fos­ter place­ments and res­i­den­tial place­ments which are sig­nif­i­cantly more ex­pen­sive. Other North Wales author­i­ties find them­selves in a sim­i­lar po­si­tion.”

Po­lice cor­ral the er­rant swan near Me­nai Bridge

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