The Welsh Government have today set out details of the provisional distribution of £4.2 billion of public funds to the 22 Welsh local authorities, with Wrexham Council getting the 8th ‘best’ settlement.
The settlement table is below, with Wrexham due to see a -0.3% cut in the 2018-19 settlement figure. All local authorities in Wales have seen a cut, aside from Cardiff.
The 0.3% cut means the settlement is down from the current £174,049,000 to £173,485,000 – a drop of £564,000.
Looking ahead Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford has trailed that the indicative settlement for 2019-20 shows a likely reduction of 1.5% is on the cards – which based on todays figures would be a hefty £2,602,272 .
Wrexham Council Leader Mark Pritchard has said, “I am disappointed that the Welsh Government has reduced the resources available for essential Local Government services. In Wrexham, this settlement will require the Council to make around £6m of cuts. Wrexham has the 18th lowest funding per head of population.
“The Council will continue to work hard to reduce the impact of these savings on the people of Wrexham County Borough and will continue to prioritise the most vulnerable.
“I will be responding to this Welsh Government provisional settlement during the formal consultation period which ends on 21 November 2017.”
Lesley Griffiths, Wrexham’s AM said: “As long as the Tory UK Government continue to pursue their failed austerity agenda, difficult decisions will have to be made by both the Welsh Government and local authorities throughout Wales. Since 2010, £1.2bn has been cut from Welsh budget by the UK Government and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has outlined further unallocated cuts of £3.5bn in 2019-20, which will undoubtedly impact upon Wales.”
“In spite of the challenging circumstances, I believe many will recognise the Welsh Government has delivered a pragmatic provisional settlement, aiming to provide stability and protect key public services from Tory austerity.”
“Wrexham Council’s 0.3% cut is far from ideal but remains the eighth best settlement out of Wales’ 22 local authorities and could certainly have been a great deal worse. The announcement enables the Council to plan for the future and focus on delivering fundamental public services for local residents.”
Announcing the provisional settlement, Mark Drakeford said: “Last year I told local authorities to prepare for the tougher times and harder choices that lay ahead as the flawed and failed policy of austerity continues to hit Wales hard.
“My priority, using a formula we have agreed with local government, is to try and protect councils from the worst of the cuts passed on to us by the UK Government. I think this is reflected in the settlement for 2018-19.
“We have acted to protect funding for key public services such as schools and social care while also recognising the pressures that exist in areas such as homelessness prevention.
“If the Chancellor of the Exchequer follows our advice and does not proceed with cuts in the Autumn Budget then my first priority will be to look again at the cuts we have been forced to make in 2019-20.
“Next year’s settlement might be difficult. We have done all we can to make it manageable.Councils must now use this time to plan ahead and ensure that funding goes to the services and people who need it the most.”
‘the War of Attrition continues’ says WLGA
The Welsh Local Government Association has commented on the settlement figures saying: “The local government settlement announced by Welsh Government continues an eight-year run of real terms reductions to local government funding.
“In the context of ongoing and prolonged austerity, councils will view this as a very difficult and challenging settlement for supporting vital services that contribute to the education, health and well- being of our communities. Leaders across Wales have pushed for parity of funding and particularly sought new investment in a range of services, such as economic development, environmental health and transport, which have been pummeled by cuts.
“The headline reduction of 0.5% fails to recognise the full story; with service pressures that amount to £212m in 2018-19 alone, the sector will have to look for savings of nearly 4.5% of net budgets in the next financial year. This comes on top of cuts of over £1bn that have been made to date and 25,000 job losses across the sector. While the reduction is within the range predicted by the WLGA, local government is still bearing the heaviest burden of austerity.”
Commenting on the draft settlement, Councillor Debbie Wilcox (Newport), WLGA Leader said: “I have gone on record on a number of occasions to express my frustrations with the UK Government’s austerity agenda; it clearly isn’t working. The competing demands on the Welsh Government’s own funding presents the Cabinet Secretary with difficult choices and we recognize his efforts to try to protect local services. The problem for local government is that we are now in a ‘war of attrition’. Services are wearing down to the point of collapse and the public are rightly growing frustrated in terms of paying council tax and yet seeing key community functions cut or closed.”