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Councillors approve £20m cuts in Powys

Councillors failed to reach a decision in talks last week Credit: ITV News Wales

Councillors in Powys have approved plans which will lead to the loss of 400 jobs

It is part of a package of measures which involves £20m being cut from spending -- and a rise in council tax.

Powys County Council: 'We have to take a whole authority approach'

Powys County Council will meet later today to discuss their budget.

As part of their bid to save £20m in the next financial year, the council proposes to raise council tax by up to 4.95%, and make cuts to services.

It could also see hundreds of jobs axed.

The scale of the budget pressures facing Powys means that we have to take a whole authority approach - changing the way we work, adopting new operating methods and more working partners.

We will be discussing levels of council tax, every one per cent increase generates £580,000 in income.

The fourth element is the most difficult – service reductions. The scale of budget pressures mean that some services will no longer be provided by the county council. In some cases similar provision may be provided by local communities or other organisations but some services will disappear altogether.

– Councillor David Jones, Leader Powys County Council

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Rise in council tax expected as Powys decides budget

The council say the situation is 'unprecedented' Credit: ITV News

Powys County Council will meet again later to decide their budget, after adjourning their decision in February.

It needs to make £20m savings in the next financial year, and £40m by April 2017, which could mean a rise in council tax of up to 4.95% and hundreds of job losses.

The council say strengthened security is in place, following a disruptive incident involving protestors at the last meeting.

Today is the final deadline for a decision to be made, ready to have services in place at the start of the next financial year in April.

As well as increases in council tax, proposals include reducing public services, and cutting the number of staff at the council.

The meeting is due to start at 10.30am.

'Armageddon scenario' for valleys in budget cuts

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council's nursery provision is threatened by budget cuts. Credit: PA

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council is set to face an estimated budget gap of 'at least' £56m over the next four years.

The first phase of tough decisions to bridge the Council’s funding gap is being considered by Cabinet today at 4pm.

RCT says it will consider a range of options to bridge the funding gap and whether it should initiate a consultation on those proposals.

Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Anthony Christopher said, "This really is an Armageddon scenario for local government which will have a severe impact on local services. No community in our area will be left unaffected during these difficult times."

The cuts to be considered today include: nursery provision, meals-on-wheels, youth services and libraries.

Protests are expected to take place when the cabinet meets.

First Minister won't rule out more cuts this year

First Minister Carwyn Jones has repeated his warning that next month's supplementary budget will include further spending cuts. During his monthly press conference he said 'we cannot exclude in-year budget cuts this year.'

He also said that his cabinet had agreed to protect health, schools, universal benefits and job creation but that ministers are reconsidering everything else the Welsh Government spends money:

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First Minister responds to Autumn statement

Responding to the UK Government’s Autumn Statement, the First Minister Carwyn Jones welcomed the extra capital funding but warned that Wales still faces some very difficult spending decisions.

It is good to see the UK Government have listened to our call for extra infrastructure investment – we have been pressing the case for some time and are pleased that they have responded.

Despite this extra money, it must be remembered that our capital budget in 2014-15 will still be 39% lower in real terms than it was in 2009-10. The fact is we will still be experiencing deep cuts that will only hinder us in our attempts to boost economic growth.

The reality of this Autumn Statement is Wales is still facing a very tough public spending environment for years to come

– First Minister Carwyn Jones

Chancellor's 'humiliating climb-down' - Plaid

Plaid Cymru's Treasury spokesman, Jonathan Edwards, says the Autumn Statement represents an admission that the Chancellor's 'austerity experiment' has failed. He said:

This Autumn Statement is a humiliating climb-down for a Chancellor in denial who is now being forced to admit the failure of his austerity experiment.

Missed debt and deficit targets coupled with the OBR’s downgrading of forecasts have exposed the Chancellor’s lack of a long-term strategy for growth and he is now presented with a golden opportunity to reverse the downward spiral which is rapidly leading to increased and institutionalised poverty and unemployment.

Mr Edwards went on to criticise as 'self-defeating' the decision to fund extra money for capital projects by cutting the budgets of nearly every Whitehall department.

The announcement on capital investment is also to be welcomed, but for this to be funded via extra austerity will be self-defeating. We also have grave concerns over the introduction of regional pay for teachers – a deeply damaging policy that The Party of Wales warned against in our 2011 manifesto.**

Use extra money to improve transport - Welsh Secretary

Welsh Secretary David Jones has been telling our Political Editor Adrian Masters that the Chancellor has given the Welsh Government exactly what it asked for in his Autumn statement. He said he hoped Welsh Ministers would spend the money on improving transport links across Wales.

And he rejected the suggestion that a reduction in the main budget for Wales meant the UK Government was giving with one hand and taking away with the other. He described it as 'a marginal reduction.'

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