Cash for coun­cils is ‘still not enough’

Bangor Mail - - NEWS - Ruth Mos­al­ski

NORTH Wales coun­cils fac­ing painful cuts are to get more money from the Welsh Govern­ment than ex­pected – but there are warn­ings it still isn’t enough.

When the Welsh Govern­ment an­nounced how much it planned to give lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Oc­to­ber, it re­sulted in an over­all cut of 0.3% with some au­thor­i­ties fac­ing cuts of 1%.

But un­der the new an­nounce­ment, no-one will lose more than 0.5% – a boost for Conwy, An­gle­sey, Flintshire, Gwynedd and Wrex­ham who were all fac­ing a worse cut.

Fi­nance Sec­re­tary Mark Drake­ford said he would give coun­cils an ad­di­tional £14.2m next year to their main grant.

He said: “This was still a chal­leng­ing set­tle­ment over­all and we are com­mit­ted to lo­cal govern­ment be­ing a key pri­or­ity for any ad­di­tional fund­ing fol­low­ing the UK Au­tumn Bud­get last month.

“Lo­cal govern­ment has been at the heart of our con­sid­er­a­tions as we have worked through the de­tail of the UK Au­tumn Bud­get on our spend­ing pro­pos­als over the last few weeks.” HOW THE FIG­URES ORIG­I­NALLY LOOKED:

Six coun­cils were to see rises: Cardiff (0.4%)Merthyr Tyd­fil (0.3%)Rhondda Cynon Taff (0.3%)Neath Port Tal­bot (0.2%) New­port (0.2%)Tor­faen (0.1%) Swansea will get no fund­ing in­crease and all oth­ers will ex­pe­ri­ence a cut.

Coun­cils fac­ing a cut were: Ceredi­gion (-0.3%); Pem­brokeshire (-0.4%); Blae­nau Gwent (-0.5%); Caer­philly (-0.5%); Den­bighshire (-0.5%); Car­marthen­shire (-0.5%); Wrex­ham (-0.6%); Brid­gend (-0.6%); Vale of Glam­or­gan (-0.7%); Gwynedd (-0.8%); Mon­mouthshire (-1%); Powys (-1%); Flintshire (-1%); Conwy (-1%); An­gle­sey (-1%)

The re­vised per­cent­ages are not yet avail­able as cal­cu­la­tions are con­tin­u­ing. The Fi­nal Lo­cal Govern­ment set­tle­ment will be pub­lished on 19 De­cem­ber.

The boost has al­ready been cau­tiously wel­comed.

The Welsh Lo­cal Govern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion said there had been dis­cus­sions over the last month with them ask­ing the Welsh Govern­ment to put coun­cils at the “front of the queue” for dis­tribut­ing the money from the Chan­cel­lor’s bud­get.

As well as the re­duc­tion, an ad­di­tional £13m has been pro­vided to take the Welsh av­er­age to a flat cash set­tle­ment, mean­ing more money for core ser­vices like ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial care.

WLGA Leader Coun­cil­lor Deb­bie Wil­cox said: “The fi­nan­cial pack­age sig­nals sig­nif­i­cant progress.

“It demon­strates a con­certed ef­fort to off­set the im­pact of aus­ter­ity in Wales.

“Un­for­tu­nately, de­spite West­min­ster rhetoric, this failed phi­los­o­phy is far from ap­proach­ing its end game. There­fore, this does not mean the avoid­ance of cuts or rises to coun­cil tax since fund­ing in­creases do not meet the pres­sures and costs of key ser­vices.

“We look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing con­struc­tive di­a­logue with the Welsh Govern­ment to ad­dress these is­sues.”

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