Flintshire council leader ‘disappointed’ at final settlement announcement
A council leader has expressed his disappointment at the final sum of money given to local authorities by the Welsh Government.
Flintshire Council remains one of the worst impacted by cuts with a reduction to its settlement of 0.3 per cent for 2019/20.
The amount announced by the Minister for Housing and Local Government yesterday is less than the one per cent decrease in funding outlined in the provisional settlement in October.
However, Cllr Aaron Shotton, who heads up Flintshire’s Labour administration, said it did not meet the extra £5.6 million requested as part of the authority’s #BackTheAsk campaign.
He is now planning to renew calls for improved funding from Assembly Members in Cardiff Bay before they vote on the final budget in the new year.
Cllr Shotton said: “Following the announcement of the provisional settlement in October this council called for the Welsh Government to fully recognise the importance of the preventative services that council’s provide, such as schools and social care.
“We are therefore disappointed that yesterday’s final settlement announcement by the Welsh Government has done little to reflect this and we will be restating our case for betterment in the new year.”
Some additional money was announced in November, which saw Flintshire revise its estimated council tax increase for 2019/20 down from 15 per cent to nine.
However, earlier this month, Cllr Shotton said there was still a hole of approximately £3.1m in the budget where cuts could not be identified.
It has not been revealed what impact the final settlement will have on that gap, but the council believes education in particular is still underfunded.
In a written statement Julie James AM, Minister for Housing and Local Government, said the new settlement figure was better than that set out in October.
She said: “The decisions the Welsh Government has made as part of the overall budget provide local government with a realistic settlement against the background of the current financial climate and one which is improved on the indicative settlement approved in the last budget.
“Compared with the provisional settlement announced in October, the final settlement, for 2019-20, includes an additional £23.6 million as a result of the Welsh Government’s final budget allocations.
“This encompasses the additional allocations announced by the Welsh Government on 20 November, along with funding to increase the capital limit for residential care and to deliver local rates relief schemes.
“As set out in the First Minister’s letter to local authority leaders, this improved package of funding must be matched by a commitment from local authorities to regional working.”
Ms James said the additional funding meant no authority faces a reduction of more than 0.3 per cent compared with the current year.
The National Assembly for Wales will be asked to approve her report on 15 January 2019.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).
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