Wrexham Council have been given their provisional settlement figure from Welsh Government, which will impact on what budget savings are going to have to be made in 2019-2020 and future years.
The settlement information gives local authorities the information to set their budgets and council tax levels for 2019-20. Wrexham has previously warned a poor settlement would see service closures and hints of bin collection changes and council tax rises.
Wrexham Council Leader Mark Pritchard said: “I am stunned 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 £9m 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 cuts from Welsh Government on the people of Wrexham County Borough. I will be responding to the provisional settlement during the formal consultation period which ends on November 20, 2018.”
Welsh Government say: “Local authorities in Wales will receive £4.2bn in core revenue funding and non-domestic rates next year to spend on delivering key services. This includes £2.5m of floor funding to ensure that no authority has to manage with a reduction of more than 1.0%.
“In recognition of the important role local authorities play in delivering core social services and the preventative approach at the heart of delivery, this settlement contains a further £20m to help ease those pressures.
“We have also provided funding for additional costs arising from changes by the UK Government to teachers’ pay, as well as funding for our proposals for new eligibility criteria for free school meals in light of the continued rollout of Universal Credit by the UK Government.
“In addition, we are providing £60m capital funding over three years for a local authority road refurbishment scheme to help repair the damage caused by a series of hard winters and this summer’s heatwave and access to the £78m local transport fund.”
The break down per authority in straight percentage terms is below with Anglesey, Conwy, Flintshire, Powys and Monmouthshire seeing a 1% cut to their funding, and Cardiff a 0.4% increase.
Wrexham gets a 0.6% cut.
Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services Alun Davies said: “After the announcement of the final Budget last year, authorities were facing the prospect of a 1.0% reduction in core funding for 2019-20, equivalent to a £43m reduction in cash terms.
“We have worked hard, across government, to offer local government the best settlement possible in this ninth year of austerity. We have made further allocations to the local government settlement to mitigate most of the reduction local government had been expecting. As a result, the £43m cut has been reduced to less than £13m, including floor funding, which equates to a reduction of 0.3% on a like-for-like basis compared to the current year.
“The draft Budget last week also included a series of additional grants for local government, including £30m for social care and £15m for education and the restoration of other funding streams where cuts had previously been announced.
“While we have worked hard to offer local government the best settlement possible, we recognise this settlement is a real terms cut in core funding, at a time when authorities face real pressures from an increase in demand from an ageing population; pay awards and other inflationary pressures.
“As we have made clear in discussions with our colleagues in local government, we recognise the pressures they are facing and will continue to do all we can to shield them from the worst effects of austerity.
“The UK Government will publish its Budget on 29 October. In the event of additional funding being made available to Wales, local government will be a key priority for that funding.”
Councillor Anthony Hunt (Torfaen), the Welsh Local Government Association Finance Spokesperson and Labour Group said: “It is with deep regret that we have received today’s provisional settlement. I know my colleagues in Welsh Government have had tough decisions to make thanks to austerity. But I fear that the wrong decisions have been taken in this budget.”
“Councils in Wales provide vital local services. We are at the forefront of the preventative and early intervention agenda that forms an important part of the Welsh Government’s own Wellbeing of Future Generations Act. Yet looking at the budget, the funding of those services appears not to be a priority.”
“As well as having to deal with cuts upon cuts, the build-up of pressures in areas such as looked after children and services for older or vulnerable people are completely outstripping our existing resources. To cut these services further makes no sense; doing so will only place more pressure on other public services including the NHS.”
“As Labour leaders in Wales, we call on the Welsh Government to enter into immediate dialogue with councils to see how we can work together to avert what will otherwise be a deepening crisis in the funding of our children’s schools, social care for vulnerable people and the other vital services that people value and rely on. As councils, we have tightly managed our budget throughout austerity, making efficiency savings year after year. But, after eight years of deep cuts, we are fast reaching breaking point for local services.”
We are awaiting Wrexham Council’s reaction…