Flintshire County Council is facing a ‘no-win’ situation where the only alternative to another hefty increase for taxpayers is cutting services, it has been warned.
An updated forecast shows the local authority’s anticipated financial black hole for next year has increased to more than £13 million.
In a report, new council leader Ian Roberts said the main methods of tackling the gap would include the local authority’s settlement from the Welsh Government and money raised through council tax.
However, as residents have already faced a hike of more than eight per cent in their rates this year, one senior politician said another large rise might not be palatable.
At a meeting of the ruling Labour administration Cllr Carolyn Thomas, cabinet member for Streetscene and countryside, said cuts to services would be needed unless ministers in Cardiff provide more money.
Speaking at County Hall in Mold ton Tuesday she said: “Last year we had to increase council tax by a high percentage as we didn’t want to cut any services.
“This year we can’t do it again but the only alternative unless Welsh Government gives us more money is cutting services.
“We’re in a no-win situation. I sometimes think that they live in different worlds and we need to be out there having early conversations to show them the reality of it here.
“It’s an extremely worrying situation.”
In the run-up to setting the budget for the current financial year, a cross-party group of politicians from Flintshire visited Cardiff to lobby AMs for more funding.
But despite meeting with ministers most of their funding requests were not met.
The authority is currently expecting to receive the same amount from the Welsh Government for 2020/21 as it did this year, although chief executive Colin Everett revealed there have been some positive signs of an improvement since Mark Drakeford became First Minister.
He said: “The way we work with Welsh Government is we all work alongside each other through the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) as one voice.
“The engagement is happening now and I have to say WLGA officers really respect the position we took and the arguments we made.
“We can only speak for the new cabinet in Cardiff, but the degree of understanding and empathy is probably at a level which has restored our faith in central and local relations in a way we probably haven’t had for seven or eight years.”
At the end of the meeting, cabinet members voted to adopt the updated financial forecast as the basis for their planning for next year.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).