Today Wrexham Council has been told the provisional value of their Local Government Settlement.
Initially it was expected the figure would result in a £34,000,000 shortfall over the next five years, however this could rise to around £60,000,000.
Not all detail of local impacts is available as of yet, but this afternoons initial announcement has seen a -3.5% reduction in total funding for the local authority.
Councillor Malcolm King OBE, Lead Member of Wrexham Council for Policy, Finance, Performance and Governance said: “With such large reductions in the Welsh Block Grant coming from the UK Government and with a need to increase funding for the Health service, it was inevitable that the Welsh Government would pass on large cuts to local government, which they have been saying for some time now.”
“However, there is no disguising the fact that this is very bad news for Wrexham. In previous years, the council has made millions of pounds of savings year on year and has strived to protect schools and social Care. But the scale of the reductions contained in this announcement is unprecedented. It is very different to what the Council have been planning for just a few months ago.
“Unfortunately the funding situation looks bleak for quite a few years to come. Although the challenge to find around £13m of cuts next year is very daunting, the longer term challenges are even more difficult.
“We have already begun the task of reshaping our services whilst continuing to prioritise the most vulnerable. However, whatever the size of the challenge, Wrexham Council remains absolutely committed to the task of using whatever funding it has to deliver the best possible services for the people of Wrexham.”
The Council said “We will be responding to this provisional settlement during the formal consultation period which ends on 20 November 2013.”
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.
You can view the formal Welsh Government statement here on Wales.gov.uk, with the ‘ranking’ of authorities in Wales copied below:
Just over two weeks ago we reported on the ‘challenging times’ referred to in a recent Council Executive Board meeting regarding ‘reshaping’ services. Similarly a week before today’s announcement was referred to as probably being ‘grim’.
Today’s announcement mentions a ‘consultation’, which is mentioned in the provisional letter to Council Leaders, the relevant section copied below:
The report to the Executive Board mentioned gave an example of possible ‘reshaping’ of an ‘average sized Welsh Council’. To be clear these are not specific proposals for Wrexham Council but an illustration on how cuts could manifest themselves locally:
- 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.
There is a Wrexham.com forum thread which was started at the time of a previous article, entitled “Oct 16th D-Day – Examples Of Possible Council Cuts” you can view it and join in the debate by clicking here.