Bills to rise and services cut in Neath Port Talbot to save £20m
HUGE spending cuts are on their way to Neath Port Talbot where council chiefs must axe more than £20 million from their budgets over the next five years.
Services will be hit to the tune of £14 million and the council has warned it will have to reduce its staff costs by around £2 million, though it has no plans for compulsory redundancies.
Fees and charges and council tax bills are also set to rise to provide around £4 million worth of extra income to help close the budget gap.
Copies of a letter by chief executive Steve Phillips explaining the grim situation have been sent to all staff, while briefings have taken place for council workers, councillors and for trade union representatives.
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Over the previous five years the authority has had to cut spending by £30 million, so on the face it the required £21 million reduction between 2013 and 2018 would appear to be less damaging.
But officials say the previous reductions have made it a lot harder to bridge the gap.
"There is very little good news in these proposals and I shall not pretend otherwise," Mr Phillips said in his letter to staff.
"You do not need me to tell you about the current climate of financial austerity, zero economic growth and continuing crisis in the eurozone."
No decisions have yet been made, but directors have set out a series of proposals that councillors will have to rule on in the months ahead.
"The council's priorities remain the protection of key public services, particularly for the vulnerable and the most disadvantaged in our communities," said a spokesman.
"The authority also wishes to protect jobs in its workforce to the maximum extent possible.
"The package of proposals seeks maximum fairness and equity in difficult circumstances.
"The cuts will impact on frontline services, terms and conditions of staff, the fees and charges that residents pay for some services, and council tax levels. A balance between all these factors is essential."
In his letter, Mr Phillips did a positive message for staff. "We have been in this position before and managed it — and we can do it again, if we all pull together," he said.
Mr Phillips referred to the "robust and constructive" relationship between the council and its communities, elected members and officers, unions and management, and with all its partners.
"We cannot afford to fail," he added.