Posted: Tue 2nd Oct 2018

Welsh Government draft budget: More cuts for local services on the way but cash boost for health and social care

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Oct 2nd, 2018


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The publication of the Welsh Government draft budget today confirms earlier fears that local public services will continue to face significant cuts and thousands of jobs will be lost the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) has said.

In advance of today’s draft budget announcement the WLGA surveyed the 22 councils across Wales on their financial prospects after eight years of austerity. All Responded with a clear message they have “run out of road” in terms of choices.

“Funding has been cut by £1bn over those years and despite Welsh Government efforts to protect services the options for cuts grow more difficult and unpalatable and the unthinkable becomes much more likely,” the WLGA says.

“Services like transport, public protection, culture, libraries and environmental services – the bread and butter services of our local communities – will continue to reduce, but the larger areas of social care and education will increasingly bear the weight of funding reductions, as budgets are squeezed further.” The association goes on top say.

Torfaen councillor Anthony Hunt the WLGA Spokesperson for Finance and Resource said: “The publication of the Welsh Government’s outline draft budget marks the ninth year in a row that councils have been left with significant budget shortfalls during the era of austerity.

The scale of the financial challenge facing local services in 2019-20 is enormous, at £264m or around 5% of net spend.

This includes the challenge of finding £159m for much needed pay rises for hard working staff, and many other pressures on local services.

The challenge facing councils to keep vital local services like schools and social care running cannot be overstated.

If austerity doesn’t end soon, public services as we know them will be a thing of the past.”

A slightly more positive view? 

Delyn AM Hannah Blythyn put a more positive spin on today’s draft budget outlined in the Senedd by Mark Drakeford, Secretary for Finance, she said it has “put the health of communities at its heart.” 

Hannah Blythyn said the draft budget would help communities remain resilient moving forward: “The Welsh Government draft budget has put the health of communities at its heart, while faced with failed and continuing austerity from the UK Government.

“More than half a billion pounds will be invested in to our health and social care system – including significant investment in mental health services.

“Funding of £60m over the next three years will support local authorities’ road refurbishment schemes, while £26m of targeted investment makes up the local transport fund, improving traffic flows, public transport and environmental sustainability.”

Support will continue to help parents cover the costs of school uniforms and Hannah Blythyn AM said the Welsh Government “underlined its commitment” to our communities while setting a “most difficult draft budget”.

She added: “The doubling of the Pupil Development Grant Access fund will help families meet school equipment costs while ensuring independent schools and private hospitals will make a contribution to the cost of local services by paying rates on the properties they occupy.

“I was pleased to see the Cabinet Secretary for Finance also confirm he would look to consult on plans to exempt care leavers in Wales from paying council tax until they are 25.

“Through this most difficult draft budget, in the midst of rising costs and spending constraints – including an addition £300m of unplanned costs onto our public services, the Welsh Government has underlined its commitment to ensuring our communities remain resilient and are able to prosper in the future.”

 

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