BLAENAU Gwent Council needs to make £7.7m in savings following news that funding from the Welsh government is expected to be much lower than predicted.

They originally planned for £4.8m of cuts for 2015/16.

Through a series of “Let’s Talk” public engagement sessions this month, the council will be going out to communities to meet with residents and explain the challenges ahead, as well as asking their views on future priorities.

During the first round of drop-in sessions, information will be provided on the latest financial position and on how the council receives funding and how it is spent.

The drop-in sessions are taking place on Monday, August 18 and Wednesday, August 20 at Bedwellty House and Park, Tredegar, from 5pm to 8pm.

Asda Car Park, Lakeside Retail Park, Brynmawr from 10am to 3pm, on Friday, August 22 at Ebbw Vale Learning Action Centre, Ebbw Vale from 10am to 3pm and on Wednesday, August 27 at Llanhilleth Miners Institute, Llanhilleth from 5pm to 8pm.

Further engagement is planned for November and March which will present more specific details of the proposed savings and changes to services, before a budget is set next March.

Cllr Steve Thomas, deputy leader of the council, said: “We promised to improve our engagement approach with local people, so we are pleased to be heading out on our first round of drop-in sessions. This is an opportunity to talk to people about the reality of the Council’s significant financial challenges and find out what services matter to them.

“We have recently received a strong indication that our budget settlement from the Welsh Government could be significantly lower than we originally expected. We based our financial planning to date on a forecasted reduction of 1.5 per cent, but we now expect this to be around 4.5 per cent.

“Through our Transforming Blaenau Gwent programme, we are continuing to look at savings and efficiencies and we are also beginning to explore how the Council will look in the future and what services it can continue to provide. We want to work with our communities to enable people to become more independent and help build their confidence so they can become involved with local services themselves.

If you miss the sessions the council will also be using surveys, available on request or online from August 11.