THERE is huge concern about the Vale Council’s financial situation after the latest forecast.

Council leader Lis Burnett said it is the most difficult financial situation she has seen as the Vale Council implore the Welsh Government to do more or see “unpalatable” decisions made on the county’s services.

An initial forecast indicates council costs will rise by just over £38.5million for the next financial year.

After taking action to “manage those pressures”, the council say that figure has been reduced to £20.7million.

However, that still leaves a budget shortfall of more than £10.5million after factoring in the anticipated increase in funding the council will receive from Welsh Government and other sources.

Spending to ensure the Vale’s most vulnerable residents receive appropriate social care is also £8million more than anticipated for this financial year.

Cllr Lis Burnett, leader of the Vale Council, said the council faces unprecedented challenges.

“I want to be very clear that this is the most difficult financial situation the council has been in and setting the next budget will be tougher than ever before,” said Cllr Burnett.

“It is a simple fact that costs are increasing at a much higher rate than funding, meaning there is a significant and growing gap between what the council can afford to pay for now and what will be possible in the future.

“There is no disguising the fact that some difficult and unpalatable decisions lie ahead as we aim to best allocate the money available to us.”

The council say significant rise in costs is the result of high energy prices, inflation and interest rates, while the increased expense of providing for an ageing population and growing number of school pupils with additional learning needs is all contributing factors.

Demand for social care among both adults and children has grown, with greater need for homelessness accommodation also affecting matters.

Barry And District News: Leader Lis Burnett says the council is facing unpalatable decisionsLeader Lis Burnett says the council is facing unpalatable decisions (Image: Vale Council)

The leader went on to assure residents of the Vale the council will do all it can to protect the most vulnerable.

“What will remain an absolute priority is maintaining services for those in our communities that need them most,” said Cllr Burnett.

“We will always make sure our children, older people and those with additional needs are properly looked after.”

Welsh Government has indicated local authority funding is set to increase by three per cent next year and one per cent after that.

Vale Council say this is well below the current rate of inflation as is an illustrative council tax increase of 4.9 per cent used in the report.

Budget proposals will be considered by Cabinet and Scrutiny Committees in due course and undergo a public consultation before being finalised at a meeting of all councillors in March.

The Welsh Government has been contacted for comment.