Council services across Wales boosted with a funding increase next year – Flintshire gets 14th best draft settlement at 9.2%
Council services across Wales are set to be boosted with a funding increase next year, with more money for councils – but more being provided via them.
The Welsh Government has published its provisional local government settlement for 2022-23 – with Flintshire in 14th place.
Core revenue funding for local government will increase by 9.4% on a like-for-like basis, compared to the current year. No local authority will receive less than an 8.4% increase.
The settlement provides funding to deliver various policy commitments including the real Living Wage for care workers, the teachers’ pay deal, support on business rates, and the Council Tax Reduction Scheme – so council’s will be doing more but paid more.
The estimated budget gap faced by Flintshire Council has grown to almost £20.7m and political leaders had warned it could cause “damaging cuts”.
The local authority predicted in July it would need £16.75m to balance its books for the next financial year.
However, a hike in National Insurance contributions and a higher-than-expected uplift in the levy charged by North Wales Fire and Rescue Service has caused the sum to rise.
Councillor Andrew Morgan (Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Leader), Welsh Local Government Association Leader said: “This is a very welcome settlement and will be a massive boost for our communities.”
“It provides investment for local services and gives councils the additional certainty in the future that is required in extraordinary times.”
“The financial support for councils from the Welsh Government has been vital in responding to the crisis.”
“A settlement of this scale helps put local services on a firmer financial footing than has been the case in a long time.”
“This is the result of months of constructive dialogue between ministers, leaders and officials in local government and the Welsh Government.”
“Investment in councils is more than figures on a spread sheet. It’s about investing in our communities, our people and in our vital services that help improve and change lives, whilst continuing to respond to two global challenges: the pandemic and climate change.”
Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said: “This is a good settlement for local government, one that provides councils with a stable platform to plan their budgets for the coming financial year and beyond.
“We fully recognise the pressures local authorities are facing, and will continue to work closely with local government so we can meet the shared challenges we face and deliver services to benefit the people of Wales.”
In the formal written statement the Minister added some detail, “The funding provided through this Settlement also recognises the decision made around the 2021/22 teachers’ pay deal and includes funding for the costs arising from the 2022/23 pay deal, which fall within this Settlement year.”
“Accordingly, I will not be making any further funding available in-year in recognition of the 2022/23 teachers’ pay deal, and authorities’ budget planning must accommodate these costs in the light of this Settlement.”
“More widely on public sector pay, this settlement includes funding to cover the increased costs local authorities will face arising from the UK Government’s announcement to increase National Insurance contributions for employers.”
The settlement does not include a ‘floor’ that has been previously requested, however does look forward for a three year period.
Previously councils were highly critical of the year-to-year style settlements which they said gave them no ability to firmly preplan budgets.
The release from Welsh Government said, “In addition to this, I am publishing information on revenue and capital grants planned for the following three years. For 2022-23, these amount to more than £1.1bn for revenue and over £700m for capital.”
“We are providing these indicative grant values now so local authorities are able to plan their budgets efficiently. This information will be further updated in the final settlement.”
Councillor Anthony Hunt (Torfaen), WLGA Finance Spokesperson said the announcement “is a generous uplift in revenue funding and will help us deliver improved outcomes across all our services.”
“I am pleased that additional funding for social care starts to address our long-held concerns about pay for carers and rewards those who provide the most critical services for the most vulnerable in our communities.”
“This kind of positive outcome reflects our partnership approach to government in Wales and our regular engagement with ministers, and I would like to thank them for recognising the critical role that council services play.”
“The underlying increase in funding will meet our basic budget inflationary pressures and additional pressures caused by the increase in National Insurance but I’m pleased that the Welsh Government is also providing funding to pay registered carers the real living wage.”
A seven-week consultation on the provisional settlement has opened today, which will end on 8 February 2022.
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