‘Grim’ Council Cuts Probable As Shortfall Predicted To Grow
On the 16th of this month Wrexham Council will be told the provisional value of their Local Government Settlement, with the impact being described as ‘grim’.
The annual local government finance settlement grant allocates money on an individual council basis, with the total grant divided among councils on the basis of a complex formula that seeks to take into account the relative needs and available resources of different councils.
Wrexham Council currently estimates it will have a funding shortfall of at least £34 million, which is likely to get bigger with an expected settlement figure due to be lower than first thought.
Council Leader Neil Rogers told us: “On the 16th we will be told our revenue from the Local Government Settlement.”
Warning the figure could mean extra shortfalls he added: “It could be another ten million, or twenty million. There will be tough choices ahead.
“We have been told it is far worse than expected. It’s going to be grim, and listening to the Chancellor it could continue until the end of the decade.
“The services we provide now may not be provided by Wrexham Council in a year or several years time.”
Wrexham Council said it is ‘no secret’ that Wrexham Council will not be the council people are used to as things evolve and change, and a report to the forthcoming Executive Board covers ‘reshaping’ of services.
In order to meet these budget cuts and improve efficiencies across the authority, the Council will be taking what they call a ‘package approach’ to reshaping services.
The report gives an example of possible ‘reshaping’ of an ‘average sized Welsh Council’. To be clear this is not proposals for Wrexham but an illustration on how cuts could appear:
- Cut expenditure on cultural services by 75% over the next two years, potentially closing art galleries and museums
- A 25% reduction in spend on planning in 2014/15
- Close down all sports and leisure facilities if they cannot be transferred to third sector or operated commercially (without subsidy) by mutual or arms-length organisations
- Reduce libraries expenditure by 50% over a two year period, keeping open half of those facilities that will act as hubs for welfare reform changes.
- Reduce highways spend by a quarter in 2015/16
- Switch off up to 50% of street lights from midnight to 5am in 2014/15 and all from 2015/16
- Cut spend on economic development by a half in 2015/16
- Cutting general administration and back office budgets by a quarter in 2015/16
- Cutting third sector funding in half in 2015/16.
The report also says the YouChoose online budget slider system, where members of the public could interact and see where they would make £34 million of cuts, was used by just under 1000 people, with 300 completing it fully.
The report also has a paragraph stating “Any cash cut to councils’ budgets will impact on job numbers and service levels, with the severity of the consequences increasing dramatically once the effects of inflation, pay awards and demographic growth are factored in. The Minister’s letter of 23 May states that English-style reductions should be
expected in Wales. Taking figures from the LGA and a number of other sources the paper considers the likely impact of a range of cash reductions to Aggregate External Finance in 2014-15 and 2015-16.”
Cllr Rogers added: “It is important to remember that the figures in Tuesday’s Executive Board report are just an example of some of the tough decisions that members will have to make. No decisions have yet been made and we will have a clearer picture following the announcement on October 16th.”
You can read the report to the Executive Board on this PDF file on the Council’s website.
We have started this forum thread to discuss the potential cuts being made, and views on them. You can read it and take part by clicking here.
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