No more reductions – Flintshire Council chiefs call on the Welsh Government to set fair budget
Council Chiefs in Flintshire are calling on the Welsh Government to set a budget without any further reductions
Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government Mark Drakeford is set to reveal the Welsh Government Budget on 18 October.
The first national budget statement from new Chancellor Phillip Hammond, will follow in late November.
Mr Hammond addressed the Conservative conference on Monday and said he wanted the UK Government to adopt a “flexible and pragmatic” spending plan, effectively ditching his predecessor, George Osborne’s austerity measures as Britain braced itself for what he called a post-Brexit “rollercoaster”.
Whether Mr Hammond’s “flexible and pragmatic” approach trickles down to the Welsh Government Budget and subsequent local authority funding remains to be seen.
This Is Our Moment
Last year Flintshire set out a campaign calling for local support in appealing to Welsh Government for some relief from the annual cuts to their national grant which accounts for close to three-quarters of the Council’s budget.
Under the banner ‘This Is Our Moment’ the council launched an awareness campaign highlighting which local services would be at most risk unless Welsh Government listened.
[miptheme_quote author=”Cllr Aaron Shotton, Leader of Flintshire County Council” style=”boxquote text-left”]“Local councils are bearing the brunt of austerity, with some local services having experienced reductions of up to 50% since its onset. For the worst affected services, spend is at levels not experienced since the 1990s and this report concludes that there will be no let up. Austerity has some distance yet to go and there is a very real need to relook at how we deliver and fund local public services in Wales as a whole. “It is imperative that we now work with the Welsh Government to begin a process of financial reform, as recommended by the Independent Commission on Local Government Finance. We need to build a finance system that is fit for purpose and capable of supporting the local public services our communities need.[/miptheme_quote]
The Council has found a further £6 million of savings already this year though they say it won’t be enough to meet the forecast budget gap for 2017/18.
The remaining gap, in the region of £8 million, is “still significant and of considerable concern” the council says.
The gap is caused by the costs of the increased demand for some services, the impact of the Living Wage mainly in the low paid social care sector, increases in workforce costs, the costs of pension reforms and changes to Government taxation levies.
Flintshire is one of the lowest funded councils in Wales and officials say many services are reaching breaking point due to reduced budgets the options for making savings diminish.
Flintshire County Council are once again calling on the Welsh Government to set a budget without any further reductions in the main grant for councils called the Revenue Support Grant, to provide additional financial support to protect the social care sector, and to give councils the freedom to vary local fees and charges for services.
Council officials will be holding a second season of public engagement meetings on future spending and how Flintshire plans to set its annual budget.
The events will start at 6.30pm and run until approximately 8.30pm. Numbers will be limited to 200 at each venue.
|1 November||Mountain Lane School, Buckley|
|7 November||Gwynedd School, Flint|
|8 November||Ysgol Bryn Coch, Mold|
|10 November||Ysgol Maes y Felin, Holywell|
|14 November||Sandycroft CP School|
|15 November||Broughton CP School|
|21 November||Ysgol Caer Nant, Connah’s Quay|
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