Councillor questions Glamorgan Council’s use of reserves

A councillor has questioned the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s use of reserves after the authority saw profits in the tens of millions of pounds last year.

The council’s statement of accounts for 2021/22 shows that its reserves have increased from £104 million to £128 million after seeing a profit of £23.9 million in 2021/22.

Like many authorities across the UK, the Vale of Glamorgan Council has been under huge financial pressure due to spiralling inflation and was initially looking at a funding gap of £38 million.

Thanks to a better than expected funding increase from the Welsh Government, this gap has been reduced.

However, the leader of the council, Cllr Lis Burnett, said the authority is still in an extremely testing financial position.

At a Vale of Glamorgan Council Governance and Audit Committee meeting this week, Cllr Mark Hooper questioned the amount the council has in its reserves.

He said: “At the moment we have higher reserves compared to other similar local authorities in Wales and that can be described as being very robust and [that] we are very resilient.

“However, that can also be described as us holding money that is actually the council tax payer’s money on their behalf and not really doing anything with this.”

Councils across the country normally have financial reserves set aside so that they can plan for the future.

This can be ring fenced and used for specific projects or spent on responding to emergencies.

The head of finance at the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Matt Bowmer, said: “The balance of reserves will be held for known commitments or risks and that is the piece of work we have done in pulling the budget for consultation together this year.

“We have reassessed where the council’s risks are and done a significant amount of realigning of the reserves to match that and we have also done an exercise to streamline the number of reserves that we hold to make it more transparent or successful when we are reporting.”

The council’s budget consultation was launched on January 19 and will remain open until February 15.

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