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Council delivers underspend on £400m budget

HUNDREDS of services which touch the lives of thousands of residents every day were delivered within Swansea Council's budget over the last 12 months, a report to Cabinet next week shows.

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Despite significant planned budget reductions and savings of well over £54m in the last two years and significant pressure on vital services like social care and education, the council delivered an overall underspend of just over £2.2m on its net budget of over £400m  in 2015/16.

A report to Cabinet on July 21 shows that savings were delivered across the council while vital services on which residents depend continued to be delivered effectively.

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said: "We are living in extremely challenging times and there is no signal that austerity and the pressure on council resources is going to end any time soon.

"All councils have a legal obligation to deliver a balanced budget. To have done so, produced an underspend and continue to transform vital local services is testimony both to the very great effort of staff at the council.

He said: "The Wales Audit Office's most recent Corporate Assessment report about Swansea highlighted how we can demonstrate improvement across a range of key services and, at the same time, we've developed a clear framework for managing future challenges.

"What the annual revenue outturn shows is the practical effect of the Wales Audit Office's confidence that the council can manage public finances and deliver quality services on behalf of the people of Swansea at times as uncertain as those we are going through."

Some highlights of the report include an overall underspend of £1.7m in Corporate Services, the area of the council where back-office support to frontline services is provided.

In social services there were savings produced in child and family services due to the success of its safe Looked After Children reduction programme known as Signs of Safety. There were also a range of underspends  in the Place directorate which looks after areas like housing, cultural services, parks, highways and other streetscene services.

Cllr Stewart said: "As a council we are in no doubt about the financial pressures we face and it is reassuring that, despite the economic uncertainties, we are continuing to deliver quality services within budget and meeting the priorities of the people of Swansea.

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