Flintshire political leaders join forces to appeal to Welsh Government for extra funding
Political leaders on Flintshire Council have joined forces to appeal to the Welsh Government for more money as the authority faces a financial shortfall of around £16m.
Last week, the council revealed it was in danger of being unable to set a balanced budget for 2020/21 despite being legally bound to do so.
It comes as the latest projections show its forecast deficit has risen, partly due to an increase in teachers’ pay and pensions.
A letter has now been issued by councillors from across the political divide in the county to ask ministers in Cardiff for assistance in plugging the gap.
Council leader Ian Roberts said the Welsh Government had received an extra sum approaching £600m as part of the recent spending review by Westminster, which it is hoped will be passed on to local authorities.
He called for officials to fully fund the rise in staffing costs, as well as improving its basic settlement by at least £10m.
Speaking at a meeting of Flintshire’s ruling Labour cabinet held today, he said: “In reality, we need an increase in our formula allocation of a minimum of £10m to close the budget forecast gap for 2020/21 which is increasing and to make a contribution to replenish our reserves which are now at a dangerously low level.
“We are working with the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) for the best settlement possible that we can achieve this year.
“We are aware the Welsh Government has had an uplift of £593m in its revenue for next year as well as an increase in its capital allocation.
“The belief of ourselves as North Wales leaders is that Welsh Government does have the finance available.”
The council is said to be among the lowest funded in Wales and at the start of the year its forecast deficit for 2020/21 stood at £9.5m, which was later revised up to £13.3m.
The latest figure is based on increasing costs in a number of areas, including social care.
Last year, the authority launched a cross-party campaign for extra money under the banner of “#BackTheBudget”, which saw a large group of councillors travel on a bus to the Senedd in Cardiff Bay to lobby AMs.
Cllr Glyn Banks, cabinet member for finance, said it was important they continued to work together.
He said: “I was really happy and pleased that everybody signed that letter, which actually highlights the unity that is across the whole board of the local authority family.
“It just reiterates the position that we’re all in and everyone’s pushing it as a unit through the WLGA.
“The fact is we need these pressures paid for through this extra funding that the Welsh Government has got.
“We’re not being greedy, we’re just after our piece of the pie basically.”
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).
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