Shropshire Star

Financial prudence 'at the heart of budget setting process'

Financial prudence is at the heart of the budget setting process according to a council chief.

Jane Thomas, head of finance

Just before Christmas, the Welsh Government are expected to announce their draft financial settlement for all 22 Welsh local authorities for the 2022/23.

At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Governance and Audit committee on Thursday, November 18 councillors looked at the finances as part of a wider discussion of the risk register.

One of these risks noted in the register is whether the council is able to deliver a financially sustainable budget over the short and medium term.

The register explains what work is being done by the council to make sure this risk doesn’t materialise.

The register says that funding Welsh Government Covid Hardship funding is being claimed to deal with the ongoing pandemic and that discussion on the settlement for next years are now taking place.

At the meeting, committee chairman, Cllr John Morris said: “How much are we relying on a better Welsh Government settlement for our budget?”

Head of finance, Jane Thomas explained her budget setting philosophy.

Ms Thomas said: “Prudence is the key word for me in terms of budget planning.”

“We do not plan on an improved settlement we work on a worst case scenario.

“We develop the budget on a sliding scale with scenario planning that looks at a number of different percentages.

“If it’s better we then know this is what we can do.”

And if it’s the worst case Ms Thomas said that “what next” scenarios are brought up.

She added that each percentage point increase in the settlement is worth £1.9 million.

Finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies added that the Welsh local authorities were working together through the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) to tell the Welsh Government that they need their “fair share” of the £2.5 billion extra funding given to Wales by the UK Government.

“Strong efforts are being made to make sure we have an adequate share of that, said Cllr Davies.

Last year Welsh Government gave Powys a four per cent rise of just over £7.3 million in funding.

This took the revenue settlement for Powys, from the Welsh Government up to £191.897 million.

This extra funding also saw Powys move up to eighth out of of 22 local authorities in the Welsh funding table.

With the Council Tax and grant funding added to the budget, the total figure for the 2021/22 is £279.8 million.

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