Powys council cuts: Schools and social services 'key priorities'

Child being taught, woman with walking frame, Bridgend bus station, swimming pool Image copyright BBC/Jaggery/Geograph
Image caption The staffing structure of the council has been changed to free up money for essential services

County council leaders in Powys have backed £12m cuts and a 9.5% council tax hike but they insist schools and social services are protected.

Buildings have been sold and office staff cut as the independent-Tory coalition aims to balance the books.

Stephen Hayes, cabinet member for adult services, said the council was heading into "uncharted waters".

Acting chief executive Mohammed Mehmet said "risks were high" and monitoring would be "vitally important".

Powys council has been under pressure to protect key services' budgets following critical inspection reports of their children's services and adult services.

On Tuesday, its cabinet agreed proposals that would see the council tax bill for a Band D house go up by at least £9.41 a month. This could rise depending on precepts set by community and town councils and the police.

'Little room for manoeuvre'

Aled Davies, the member responsible for finance, said the authority had also made "significant savings".

The savings include £3.3m from reductions and changes in management and other staff, and £1m from cutting the number of senior officers, he told members.

Mr Hayes said it was "very difficult to communicate just how little room for manoeuvre there is for drawing up a budget of this sort".

But he added members had "a duty to set a budget that enables us to go on delivering services", according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Mr Mehmet pointed out the measures being proposed in Powys were "not very different to our neighbours and other parts of Wales".

However, he admitted the operating structure of the council had changed, and could have knock-on effects elsewhere.

"The risks are high and the monitoring of this is going to be vitally important," he said.

The proposed budget will be discussed by the full council next week, and the final decision taken in March.

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