A COUNCIL’s budget gap has increased by almost £1million more than initially planned.

Neath Port Talbot Council has revealed that following the large increase in the annual levy for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (an increase of 9.4 per cent), cuts in certain all-Wales grants and lower than expected funding from the Welsh Government, the provisional funding gap that needs to be bridged to balance the budget has risen from £2.7m to £3.5m.

The council had set out draft budget proposals which included potential cuts to services to enable the budget to be balanced, but on January 22, the cabinet members were updated with the increase in the funding gap, as well as the Provisional Local Government Settlement 2024/25. This provisional settlement is the amount of spending power given to the council each year from the Welsh Government. It is believed that despite the council facing £30.5m in new cost pressures, the amount the Welsh Government is proposing to give Neath Port Talbot Council will only increase by £7m, however, the official figure will be given to the council in February.

The updated report said: “This gap will require funding either from additional Revenue Support Grant (RSG) from Welsh Government in the final settlement; additional savings/income generation proposals, increased council tax, or a combination of these.

“The draft budget proposals assumed an increase in RSG of 3.1 per cent in line with the Welsh Government indications. However, the actual increase for Neath Port Talbot is proposed to be 2.8 per cent, below the Welsh average of 3.1 per cent (some councils get more than others in RSG based on various elements of need).”

It means that the council would receive £650,000 less in RSG than anticipated and will need to find an extra £183,000 for the fire authority’s increased level.

This comes alongside a £500,000 cut in the Social Care Workforce Grant, £312,000 cut in the Children in Communities Grant and a £709,000 cut in the Communities for Work grants.

Cllr Nia Jenkins, cabinet member for education and early years, said: “Given the 2,800 job losses just announced by Tata Steel these are the kind of services we need more than ever.”

Cllr Steve Hunt, leader of Neath Port Talbot Council has urged councillors to lobby the Welsh Government over the funding.

The council has completed a public consultation to get the public’s opinions on potential ways to balance the budget including cuts to services and increases in council tax.