News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Local MP’s and AM’s call on Welsh Government to review Flintshire council budget cut

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Wednesday, Oct 17th, 2018.

Alyn and Deeside AM Jack Sargeant has written to the Welsh Government calling for a review of financial settlement for the county which was published last week.

As anticipated Flintshire was one of the hardest hit councils in Wales, the planned budget unveiled by the Welsh Government shows the council will receive £187,817 million a decrease of between 1.0% on the previous year.

The letter from Mr Sargeant to Alun Davies, Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services has also been signed by Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami, Delyn MP David Hanson and Hannah Blythyn AM for Delyn .

Mr Sargeant writes:

“I am acutely aware of the challenges facing the Welsh Government when it comes to budgeting.

Despite new tax raising powers, the majority of funding for Wales will continue to come from the UK Govemment, through the block grant.

We have seen this fall by 5% in real terms as a result of the UK Government’s ongoing policy of austerity. This means there is £800m less to spend on public services in 2019-20 than there was in 2010-11.

Despite difficult times, I was of course disappointed to see that the draft settlement resulted in a 0.9% cut in funding for Flintshire County Council, compared with a National average of 0.5%.

Following discussions with local councillors, it is expected that Flintshire might well struggle to re-balance its budget in light of these cuts — something I know the Council and you as Cabinet Secretary are very keen to avoid.

I welcome your recent comments that following the UK Government’s budget, scheduled to be published on 29 October, “local government will be a key priority- should a budget consequential be made available.

I know the Cabinet Secretary for Finance has made similar commitments and I would urge you to make relevant representations to ensure this becomes a reality.

I agree with local representatives that the Welsh Government should undertake a review of the support given to Council services within this draft budget.”

Responding to Welsh Government’s provisional settlement last week, WLGA Deputy Leader, and Flintshire County Council Leader Cllr Aaron Shotton said:

“The Provisional Settlement is grossly inadequate for the funding needs of local councils.

The councils in North Wales will be particularly badly hit under this planned budget with three councils – Conwy, Flintshire and Ynys Mon – at the foot of the annual funding ‘league table’.

All councils are again expected to find big cuts in their budgets to balance their books next year.

At some point soon, one or more councils might have to admit that they are no longer able to legally balance their budget, without compromising the quality and safety of local services, under such intense financial pressure.

Council leaders have been warning about the deepening impacts of austerity for several years.

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) has made a well-argued and evidenced case for improved funding to protect schools, social care for the elderly, environmental, transport, library and other services.”

Cllr Shotton added:

“Welsh Government has failed to match its rhetoric of support with its budget. We welcome the announced increase in funding for the NHS in North Wales.

“Welsh Government needs to re-balance its budget to invest in the local community services that Councils provide alongside the NHS.

The taxpayer could be faced with larger than ever Council Tax rises next year because Welsh Government is no longer funding councils to the level of proven need.

“We would call on Assembly Members from across the region, from all parties, to urge Welsh Government to undertake an immediate review of the support given to Council services within this budget.”

The chart below outlines those councils who have seen an increase in their settlement (green) and those who have seen a decrease (red).

Flintshire once again sits at the bottom of the list which has done very little to convince the public locally that the Welsh Government approaches funding in a fair way as it favours South Wales based local authorities.

The Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local government called out the imbalance of funding between local authorities

The core details of the funding allocations show that all 6 of the North Wales authorities will receive a year on year reduction in their funding.

In comparison, 7 of the 12 South Wales authorities will receive an increase-in or continuation-of the level of funding from last year.

At the same time that the North Wales authorities are being cut, only Welsh Labour run councils in Cardiff, Newport and Rhondda Cynon Taf are getting budget increases.

Speaking following the publication, Mr Isherwood said:

“This settlement is a kick in the teeth for North, Mid and West Wales.

Not only are North Wales councils seeing their budgets cut, but Labour run councils in Cardiff, Newport and Neath Port Talbot are seeing their budgets increase.

“It is cronyism of the highest order and it is council tax payers across the region that will be paying the price.

“The Welsh Labour Government must look again at this settlement to give North Wales it’s fair share”.

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.”

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