Council Listens to Litter and Toilet Complaints
Swansea Council has agreed its budget for the next financial year 2021-22.
It will see a Council Tax rise of 4.58 per cent for all households across the city.
Members approved investment in roads, parks, toilets and free wi-fi in public areas of outlying communities.
The council is also setting aside £500,000 more for keeping the city clean, including a same-day clean-up team for refuse and recycling, a weeds and litter hotspot team and £160,000 for lighting column repair and replacement.
Swansea Council leader Rob Stewart said: “The budget represents a major investment in our communities, the biggest for a decade. There is investment in outlying commercial areas which will help revitalise neighbourhoods which have been affected by a decade of austerity.
“We are still prioritising education and social care because that’s what people say they want us to do.
“But in addition the council is also creating new services and expanding others which make a difference to our communities every day. It’s expected this investment will create 50 jobs.”
In a presentation to Council, Cllr Stewart announced a programme of electric vehicle charging points would be rolled out across the city and £100,000 would be spent re-opening toilets in Gorseinon, the Marina area and the city centre.
Around £8.4m will be spent on improving roads, pavements and street lighting, including the continuation of the 48-hour pothole repair initiative which saw more than 5,200 repairs completed in the 2019 calendar year.
The Budget report to council includes savings of £9.7m alongside an anticipated £17m uplift in grant funding from Welsh Government in the coming financial year.
Education will continue to take the lion’s share of the budget – an increase of £9.7m to £181.9m. Social services will see its budget rise to £124.7m.
Council agreed a council tax rise of 4.58% or 92p a week for an average Band B property.
Cllr Stewart said that Swansea’s council tax charge is about average in Wales but the council tax increase is lower than average compared to other Welsh local authorities. Council tax in Swansea is around £200 a year less compared to Neath Port Talbot.
Cllr Stewart said: “The total amount raised by council tax is about the same as we spend on social services – caring for our vulnerable children and the elderly.
“Every penny raised from the increase will go into education, into social services and into our communities.”
The council has also agreed a pledge that there will always be beds available for rough sleepers and homeless people who need them.
Alongside that £52m will be spent in the coming year upgrading the council’s existing housing stock and 1,000 new council homes – paid for out of tenants’ rents – will be built in the coming years.
In addition to extra money for school day-to-day budgets, the council is also planning to spend £3.1m on maintenance improvements for school facilities on top of new-builds for primary schools at Gorseinon, Tan y Lan and Tirdeunaw.
Cllr Stewart said a £17m uplift in funding from Welsh Government was helping fund the increases in funding for council budgets in Swansea. But he warned that it would take many more years of similar increases to end the damage done by a decade of austerity.
He said: “Thanks to the most positive Budget settlement from the Welsh Government in a decade, we intend to invest millions of pounds more on the priorities of the people of Swansea next year.”
But he added: “While the funding increase from the Welsh Government is very welcome it won't undo years of UK Government austerity. We are still funded at 2010 levels.
“We’re going to need many more years of investment at this level if we are to get back to where we should always have been. As always we will try to minimise any impact on front line services and protect jobs.”
He said: “We are already doing more with less because the council has become smarter, leaner and more efficient. We have reduced back-office spending, automated services and cut red tape and that has helped slash the cost of what we do by millions of pounds. By radically changing the way we work we have achieved savings of more than £70m in the last five years.
“If governments give is the same level of increased funding that they have this year then I can foresee the level of council tax rises reducing in future years.
“The more we get from government the less the council tax payer has to pay.”