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A Budget to protect Flintshire

Published: 16/02/2016

Flintshire County Council has had to find an unprecedented savings target of over £20M this year as a result of a further significant reduction in Government grant support and increasing needs within our County in areas such as social care. Despite this significant challenge, Flintshire as managed to reach a recommended balanced budget for 2016/17. Ahead of a budget setting meeting of the Full Council on Tuesday 16 February, Council Leader, Councillor Aaron Shotton, said, This years budget prioritises the future of our young people, the vulnerable and those in desperate need of access to decent housing. The Council I lead is dedicated towards making a real difference on the issues that matter most to the people of Flintshire. This budget will: · ensure that key services, such as social care day services, leisure facilities and school budgets are all protected for another year; · increase our investment in school budgets by £1.4M through a combination of our own funds and the additional pupil deprivation grant secured with Welsh Government; · increase investment in critical social services by over £2 Million; and · continue our commitment to retaining our three Council run residential care homes, this is in sharp contrast to the approach adopted by many other Councils across the UK. Councillor Shotton added, Flintshire has met its commitment to protect the services which were set out as at risk in the This Is Your Moment public budget engagement exercise prior to Christmas. This has been a difficult task and we’ve achieved this by cutting costs hard and finding creative solutions to enable us to sustain local services. “Given the difficulties in balancing a budget and remaining true to the Council’s principles, we have sought to use £1.4 M of Council reserve funds in order to further mitigate and protect council services. Despite the challenges we face from imposed UK austerity measures, Flintshire County Council will continue to stand up, lobby and articulate our case for fairer funding for local council services from Government and, over the coming 12 months, I will seek, as Council Leader, to continue to forge strong alliances with local community groups, council staff, trade unions and local residents as we build the momentum to defend local services in the face of continuing austerity. Council Budget Proposes a Record £21 Million Investment in Council Housing Following the overwhelming decision of Flintshire Council tenants to stay with the Council in the 2012 ballot rather than transfer to a new social landlord, the Council’s Housing service continues to go from strength to strength. The much improved Housing service is not only giving tenants a better day to day service but is generating extra money, by working more smartly and efficiently on home improvements and repairs. Council Leader, Councillor Shotton said “Not only do we now have a much improved service but, for the first time in a generation, we are starting to build new Council houses as part of our funding agreement with Welsh Government. We are on track to build more new social housing under the Strategic Housing and Regeneration Programme (SHARP) as part of our innovative approach to social housing provision. Despite austerity in the public sector, I am pleased that the Council is progressing well with our priorities for housing and delivering for the people of Flintshire.” Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Helen Brown, added, “This year, the Council will invest in a record £21M annual budget on improvements to homes and we are on track to improve our housing stock as required by 2020 to meet the Welsh Housing Quality Standard. Everything we plan to do to get homes up to the Welsh Housing Quality Standard is done in close consultation with tenants and Councillors. We work together as a strong team and I am very proud of our achievements.” Deputy Leader Councillor Bernie Attridge said, “The Housing Revenue Account and the housing service continue to perform well and improve. We have kept rents at affordable levels and we continue to work with tenants on a sound partnership approach to service developments and charging. We have a vision for the future for Council housing in the County and the multi-million pound investment in our 7000+ housing stock over the next five years will create work and job opportunities for local companies.”