Flintshire County Council has called on the Welsh Government to increase funding as it tries to find a way of plugging a near £14m hole in the budget.
The local authority has once again seen its funding cut as the UK Government austerity measures continue to bite.
All councils in Wales except Cardiff have seen a reduction in funding for 2018-19 following the local government settlement announced earlier in the month.
As a result, Flintshire will receive a 0.9% reduction in the money it gets next year, in real terms that’ll leave a funding gap of between £13m and £14m with no national support for key services.
The council had pressed the Welsh Government for a ‘cash flat settlement’ and additional investment in social care and education, instead they received one of the biggest cuts across the 22 local authorities in Wales.
In a statement released today, Flintshire County Council said it’s unreasonable to have been put in the current financial position it finds itself in; “Governments have a responsibility to properly fund councils to provide local services to meet the needs and entitlements of communities and citizens.”
The council also says it’s made the best use of resources and has had great support from communities in accommodating changes it’s been forced to make but 2018/19 “might be the year that the budget challenge is just too great.”
“We are facing a cut in our Welsh Government grant and have no protection against the costs of inflation and the increasing demands for services such as social care. We are facing a budget gap of around £13-14M. This is the on the back of successfully achieving budget efficiencies of around £80M over the past decade.” The Statement says.
The first stage of budget planning for 2018/19 has been completed by the council and £3m of savings have been identified.
The second stage of the budget may see schools offered a ‘cash-flat’ budget with no extra funding to meet inflation costs.
Restricted access to some services, raising service charges, and possibly the highest annual rise in Council Tax in Flintshire for some years are all on the cards as the council battles to balance the books.
“The third and final stage of the budget, in the New Year, could see the closure of local facilities and services. This is the level of threat we face.” The council says.
“We again call on Welsh Government to increase funding in social care and schools in Wales, to improve the Local Government Provisional Settlement, to give councils local freedoms to recover costs through charging for example in domiciliary care, and to return a proportion of the Apprentice Tax Levy for councils as employers to fund their own apprenticeship schemes.”
The council has backed calls from the Welsh Government, the Welsh Local Government Association, other local government bodies, trade unions and ‘many interest groups’ to put pressure on the UK Government to reverse its policy of austerity.