Call for unity over Neath Port Talbot Council's budget
A CALL for unity has been made as Neath Port Talbot Council prepares to usher in multi-million pound spending cuts and higher council tax bills.
Cabinet members yesterday agreed to recommend the authority's budget for the 2013-14 financial year, ready for the full council to consider today.
Assuming it's approved, council tax bills will go up by 3.87 per cent, while the main departments including social services and education will between them have to cut spending by £7 million.
But it's not all bad news, with the authority confirming that, cuts or no cuts, social services and education will still be getting more cash to spend on frontline services — particularly those for vulnerable residents.
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There's also a package of major investment projects, some originated by the council and the rest by partners such as NPT Homes and Swansea University.
Speaking at yesterday's cabinet scrutiny committee meeting, council leader Ali Thomas said: "In every department there are some difficult decisions to be made."
Mr Thomas said directors were having discussions with senior managers about sustaining services, but at the same asking them to make cuts.
"It isn't an easy job for any of us," he said. "We all feel this pain and I'm sure in due course we will resolve everything, but it takes time. Nothing is fixed overnight."
Mr Thomas added: "Difficult times call for unity. In unity we have strength. We need to stick together and we need to be constructive.
"The UK's present financial state is serious. It's a very sick financial environment and, along with everybody else, we have a responsibility to nurse it back to health."
Several councillors also had a swipe at the Coalition Government over its spending cuts and welfare reforms.
Councillor John Warman said these had created a climate of austerity and uncertainty.
"What we are trying to do is fight back for the people of Neath Port Talbot," he added. "I don't think there should be any criticism of this authority for fighting its corner."