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£39m to be invested in the future of our communities

Swansea communities, schools and social care are to get millions of pounds in extra support in the coming year.

Swansea Bay view

Money is also being spent on new children's play areas, tackling littering and potholes and sprucing-up shop fronts in communities across the city.

The council is setting aside £39m to boost services with an immediate release of an extra £20m to support communities recovering from the pandemic.

And on top of that schools have got an extra £13m which is also expected to be spent soon to support education services and pupils after a challenging year.

A report agreed by Cabinet on Thursday means the extra cash is being made available in the coming years for vital services as the city emerges from the pandemic.

Cabinet was told prudent financial management and additional grants from Welsh Government enabled the council to build strong foundations for local recovery.

Among highlights from the report were:

·       £20m of targeted support in the coming year for vital services and initiatives such as new play areas in communities and grants to improve shop-fronts.

·       £5m more in the coming year for social care

·       £6.4m to cover the full cost of digital connectivity in schools for the next decade

·       Schools able to add £13m to reserves to support pupils in lessons and with equipment

·       More than £200m spent in the last year on new and better schools, homes, roads, the environment and our towns and city centre  

·       £130m in grants for businesses in the last year

Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said: "The council has continued to run vital services despite unprecedented pressures and challenges from the pandemic.

"We have supported communities and been there for the people of Swansea through the hardest times, building a hospital, supporting those shielding, keeping children learning remotely, and helping people get tested for the virus.

"We will continue to be side-by-side with our residents as we emerge from the pandemic by continuing to invest in our schools, care for the vulnerable and homeless and supporting local businesses to grow.

"Thanks to the backing of Welsh Government and strong financial management of our resources, we're well-placed to lead the recovery."

The annual revenue and capital outturn report to Cabinet said that despite the pandemic the council had continued to support jobs with the biggest capital investment programme Swansea has ever seen.

The £20m of targeted support set aside for communities across Swansea from this year ranges from new play areas in parks, free use of parks and play spaces, more and bigger bins and extra spending to tackle litter and potholes as well as funding to help improve local shops in community commercial areas.

Cllr Stewart said: "Over the last year we have seen the very best of the people of Swansea, helping one another, checking up on neighbours' wellbeing and supporting community initiatives like food banks and free hot-meal deliveries.

"Now we're emerging from such difficult times, we want to reassure residents the council will continue to support them in the challenges ahead."

The out-turn report also provides for stronger resilience and future cover for repayment of large capital schemes.

This includes a slight increase in general reserves to £10m, raising the Contingency Fund by £6.8m to assist with one off costs, adding £5m to our adult social care reserves to be able to respond to new care pressures and increasing the Capital Equalisation Reserve by almost £9.5m to ensure future repayments on capital investments are fully covered without a direct cost to the Swansea taxpayer.

This will provide specific support help bolster the most vital services, manage increased demand and the continued potential spill-over effects of Covid-19 expected in future years.

Cllr Stewart said: "Having money in earmarked reserves helps deliver on our promise to ensure council tax is not raised to pay for capital schemes like the Arena, and that council tax resources raised locally continue to be entirely directed at key services like education and social care.

 "The virus is very much still with us and we all have to follow the rules until restrictions can be fully removed. But there is significant light at the end of the tunnel and now is the time to launch the recovery efforts and the council will be there to help our local businesses and communities lead the way."

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