Local authorities are reaching ‘crisis point’ due to chronic underfunding by the Welsh Government, with council taxpayers now being asked to pay more for less in terms of public services.
That’s the warning ahead of a Welsh Conservative opposition debate on this afternoon.
The average council tax bill in Wales has risen by 187% since 1997, with Band D properties rising from £495, to £1420 over the period.
The average band D council tax being paid by residents Flintshire was £1352 – a proposed 3% rise will see around £40 per household next year.
Meanwhile, the Welsh Local Government Association is warning that running costs for Welsh councils are likely to increase by £750 million by 2019-20.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Shadow Local Government Secretary – Janet Finch-Saunders – said:
Vital public services, including street cleaning and bin collections, have been decimated by Labour and Plaid Cymru local authorities.
Council taxpayers are now being asked to pay more for less in terms of public services and it’s fast becoming clear that the Welsh Conservatives are the only party committed to delivering fairer council tax bills.
For as long as Labour are in Government here in Wales councils, particularly in rural areas, will continue to face tough financial settlements.
We are fast approaching crisis point which places an onus on councils to develop innovative, localised solutions to public service delivery so that the burden does not fall on already hard-pressed residents.
Flintshire has pushed for increased investment in Social Care, following lobbying the Welsh Government announced extra funding of £10m across all councils to support the rising costs of domiciliary care in Wales, Flintshire expects to receive around £430,000.
The Welsh Government, in finalising its budgets for 2017/18, has recently confirmed that the charging cap limit for domiciliary care will be raised from £60 to £70 per week from 1 April 2017.
For Flintshire, this will mean that we can recover additional annual income of £230,000 from clients where they can afford to pay.
With the combined income from charging for domiciliary care and the share in the new grant, the remaining gap to be found had been reduced by £668,000 to £1.3m.
However, the Council has had to add an increase in the annual levy charged by the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority to its budget target.
Flintshire will have to contribute a further £317,000 to the Fire and Rescue service a 4.52% rise.
The gap remaining in the budget stands at £1.6m, councillors have agreed to fund this through council reserves.
The Welsh Conservative motion is as follows:
To propose that the National Assembly for Wales:
1. Recognises the important role played by local authorities in delivering significant public services across Wales;
2. Notes that strong and effective local government should see power put back into the hands of local people and their communities;
3. Acknowledges the important role played by small businesses in driving the Welsh economy and believes local authorities should work closely with the business community to encourage.