There will be cuts to the standard and quality of some Cardiff council services next year as the authority attempts to close an £18.4m funding gap.
The stark warning was last night issued by Councillor Russell Goodway, the man in charge of balancing the council’s books.
Ely’s Labour councillor also warned that the council may need to stop undertaking “certain activities” in order to maintain priority services.
Opposition councillors concluded it could mean some council services could be privatised or outsourced.
And they questioned why services should be under threat when the new Labour administration is proposing to spend an extra £1.67m a year on top-level directors.
At a meeting of the full council last night, Coun Goodway, the cabinet member for finance, outlined next year’s budget strategy, which he said would be “seriously difficult”.
“No member should have grounds for feeling shocked or surprised when they are presented with some very stark and difficult choices later this year,” he said.
“I am convinced, however, that it will be more manageable if we increase the capacity of our management team to allow them to address these challenges more creatively.”
According to the budget strategy for 2013/14, service areas will need to find savings of at least 12.5%.
“I cannot pretend that it will be possible to avoid cuts in service standards and service quality in some areas in order to meet the challenges of ever tightening targets,” Coun Goodway added.
“We need to be clear about this and honest in our assessment of what can be achieved within available resources. The choice may be between aiming to deliver a Rolls-Royce service or a Morris Minor alternative.
“On the other hand, the council may well need to face up to the hard choice of ceasing to undertake certain activities in order to maintain higher standards in priority service areas.”
Coun Goodway also announced he had scrapped the previous Liberal Democrat/Plaid Cymru’s “transformation” strategy to streamline the council.
Coun Goodway said the project was “ill-founded, poorly driven and the council lacked the capacity and the people that were needed to make it happen”.
However, Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Judith Woodman said the budget strategy was a continuation of where the previous administration left off.
Fairwater’s Plaid Cymru councillor Neil McEvoy attacked proposals to increase the number of senior managers, saying:
“What we are looking at here is largesse Labour, lots of money Labour again.
“You have said that services will be affected – it’s quite an admission when you are going to be doling out huge salaries.”
Coun David Walker, leader of the Tory group, said “huge efficiency savings” could still be found in the council, adding: “Strong leadership and education are the key issues that need to be addressed across the city.”