FLINTSHIRE Council says it is both "pleased and relieved" to have set a balanced budget for 2020/21.

Despite the predicted shortfall being more than £16m in October, the council has managed to balance its books.

The council is among the lowest funded in Wales and at the start of last year its forecast deficit for 2020/21 stood at £9.5m, but was later revised up to £13.3m.

That figure rose to £16.2m in October - based on an increase in contributions towards teachers’ pay and pensions, as well as other cost pressures.

However, the council is in a positive position after ministers in Cardiff gave it an uplift of £10.4m in funding, which equates to a boost of 3.7 per cent on last year’s amount.

The uplift came after cross-party leaders in Flintshire wrote to the Welsh Government and protested outside the Senedd calling for a better settlement.

Nevertheless, Flintshire Council still faced having to bridge a budget gap of £2.46m - and has done so by utilising an uplift of £4.26m in the social services specific grant.

It has meant Flintshire Council has kept to its pledge to cap Council Tax rise by a maximum 5 per cent - with a rise of 4.75 percent set by councillors on Tuesday.

Last year, Flintshire Council rose Council Tax by 8.75 per cent to bridge a £3.1m budget gap, and increased it 6.7 per cent the year before to fill a £5m gap in the budget.

A joint statement from Colin Everett, Flintshire Council chief executive, and Cllr Ian Roberts, council leader said: “Cabinet is both pleased and relieved to be able to recommend to council a legal and balanced Council Fund Revenue Budget for 2020/21.

"Faced with having to bridge another large budget gap, this year in the region of £16m, the budget-setting process has once again been a monumental task."

One of the tasks Flintshire Council has had to face is strain placed on education budgets due to teacher pay rises.

In October, the Welsh Government rose pay for newly qualified school teachers by 5 per cent from September, as well as an increase of 2.75 per cent for all other teachers.

And Flintshire Council has called on both the UK and Welsh governments to "commit to a three-year medium term budget plan for settlements in Wales to be at a minimum four percent for national pay award and pension reforms."

Cllr Kevin Hughes said of the budget: "What our officers have achieved and what we've achieved through being a united council should never underestimated.

"We need to continue to lobby the Welsh Government to ensure that we receive the settlement that we rightly need and deserve."