Council to lay out plans for spending cuts
DETAILS of the huge council spending cuts heading Neath and Port Talbot's way will start to emerge before Christmas.
Staff have already been told that the status quo is not an option and tough decisions will have to be made because of a predicted £21 million budget shortfall between 2013 and 2018.
The authority has already warned that services will be hit to the tune of £14 million and that staffing costs will have to be reduced by £2 million, though with 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.
So far the council has not specified exactly how it will achieve this. But a framework report, detailing the cost pressures for each department and a list of recommended savings measures, will become public late next week.
Council chief executive Steve Phillips said: "It's a halfway house between initial proposals and a final document.
"The proposals within the report will be subject to further discussions and negotiations with staff and trade unions.
"But we will need some initial decisions from members before Christmas so we can get on with setting our budget and council tax in the new year, which we have to do by law."
Mr Phillips said there had already been extensive discussions with staff and unions, with staff also putting forward their own suggestions for cost-reducing measures.
He said the key factor underpinning everything the authority was trying to achieve was to strike a balance between service cuts, employee contributions and increased fees and charges.
"The status quo is not an option," said Mr Phillips.
As part of the process, the council was also embarking on a series of reviews, covering leisure, libraries and council buildings, among others.
"It's not about closing facilities but about making the most sensible use of resources," he added.
"We want to ensure services to the public are maintained at the maximum possible extent but at the same time reduce ongoing maintenance costs."
Cabinet members are due to be presented with the report at a meeting on Tuesday, December 18.