MANAGING director Rob Thomas has warned that Vale council services are under serious threat as a consequence of reduced funding.

The council has had to save £55 million in the last nine years and needs to find a further £15 million in the next three years.

In the context of an annual budget of £225 million, the scale of these savings is significant.

Reductions in funding provided by the Welsh Government, inflation and increasing pressures in vital key services have left a shortfall between the cost of running council services and the money available to spend.

Council tax rose by 3.9 per cent in the Vale last year to help bridge this gap.

Money generated from this increase only goes a small way towards addressing the budget deficit the council is facing.

Speaking to BBC Wales Today on 7 February, Mr Thomas stressed there will be serious consequences unless there is an acknowledgement of the value and importance of a range of local services provided by the council as well as a recognition of the increasing costs associated with providing them.

These services range from social care to education as well as public transport, neighbourhood services, environmental health, planning, economic development and housing.

Mr Thomas said: “I sympathise with residents because people are paying more, council tax is increasing.

“The simple fact is, it’s increasing because the money we get from Welsh Government is decreasing. We need to fill the gap, but this isn’t filling the gap completely and much-valued public services are under real threat if the situation continues.”

The £151.923 million Welsh Government funding the council is expected to get in 2019/20 represents a cash reduction of 0.7 per cent, or £1.037million, from the previous year.

In real terms, when taking into account inflation and other factors such as national pay inflation and the non-funded teachers’ pension scheme, the budget reduction is more like 4.2 per cent.

Mr Thomas added: “As a council, we have been creative in coping with the difficult situation we find ourselves in.

“Rather than close libraries, for instance, we have made arrangements for them to be managed by the communities which they serve.

“We are also exploring similar initiatives in other areas. This includes working with partners across the region in delivering social care, developing shared services in important areas like environmental health to build resilience and cut costs and working with other councils across the region to attract investment and good quality jobs.

“However, the situation is getting increasingly difficult and there is a need for an urgent acknowledgement that in order to continue to deliver vital local services, local councils need to be funded adequately.”