The Welsh Local Government Association has said that today's proposals to shake up local councils offers no further assurances for council tax payers in Wales. It warns that bills could rise dramatically without a clear approach to how council tax will be adjusted when there's a merger between councils that have been setting different rates.
The WLGA says there's no consensus between the councils and the Welsh government about today's proposals. It says they add to the maps and options set out in the Williams report last year but do not provide additional clarity or certainty. The councils say that with no political agreement, reorganisation will take at least five years and warn that disruption, distraction and uncertainty will continue.
A council leader has criticised the Welsh Government's decision to cut £1.6m of funding to the organisation which represents local authorities. You can catch up on the story by clicking here.
The Deputy leader of Flintshire council, Labour's Bernie Attridge, has taken to twitter to voice his concern about the reduction.
Public Services minister Leighton Andrews has defended his decision to withdraw £1.6m of funding to the Welsh Local Government Association. Here he tells Political Editor Adrian Masters that the Welsh Government is committed to fewer councils and councillors and that it will 'reduce the cost of politics in local government.'
The Welsh Local Government Association has said it "deeply regrets" the loss of a £1.65 million grant from the Welsh Government, about 20% of its total funding. It's also been warned that ministers will be looking at whether other grants should be cut as well.
The spokesperson added that the other grants now under review include an award winning GP exercise referral scheme, as well as schemes to improve food in schools, raise waste awareness, improve social services, increase equality, support the Welsh language and deal with the impact of welfare reform.
The Welsh Local Government Association, which represents the 22 county and county borough councils in Wales, is losing £1.62 million of its funding from the Welsh Government. It will still get some £5 million but the minister responsible, Leighton Andrews, is also inviting other cabinet ministers to review whether the grants they give to the WLGA are still appropriate.
Mr Andrews is in charge of encouraging councils to merge voluntarily, with the likelihood of compulsory mergers for local authorities that to fail to co-operate. It's a proposal bitterly opposed by many of the WLGA's members.
Welsh local government leaders have warned that merging councils won't solve problems caused by what they estimate is a £2.6 billion budget shortfall facing Wales’ public services as a whole. They claim that there's a "growing misperception" that reorganisation offers a "silver bullet".
The leaders, who are holding a conference in Llandudno describe the idea of merging councils, to cut their number from 22 to between 10 and 12, as "widespread speculation", though it was recommended in a report commissioned by the Welsh Government.
The conference is also hearing from the Local Government Minister, Lesley Griffiths. She's told councils that they must embrace "profound change" and that if they volunteer for mergers, elections to the new authorities could take place in May 2018.
A report by the Wales Audit Office says councils should explore more opportunities to work together as they look to cut costs.
The Meeting the Financial Challenges Facing Local Government in Wales paper recommends they work with other public services to reduce costs and deliver improved outcomes for citizens. The Welsh Local Government Association said it welcomed the report.
But there was some criticism for the report.
A major report has revealed the potential full scale of cuts and job losses in councils across Wales in a massive reorganisation of our local authorities.
The study has been commissioned by the Welsh Local Government Association ahead of a major review of services due to be published next week.
The review could recommend that the number of councils is halved from 22 to 11. The WLGA says that could result in 15,000 job losses - and that changes of that scale could cost £200 million pounds.
Steve Thomas, Chief Executive of the Welsh Local Government Association, says the IFS report into public finances shows that the next decade will mean unprecedented change in local government services.
Over a third of council tenants affected by the bedroom tax in areas of Wales have fallen behind on their rent, according to figures released by the TUC today.
Figures obtained by the False Economy campaign reveal across Britain over 50,000 council housing tenants have fallen behind on their rent since the reform was introduced in April – nearly a third of all tenants affected by the tax in the 114 local authorities that provided data.
However in some parts of Wales, the proportion of council housing tenants in arrears has been far higher.
In Wrexham and Anglesey, almost half of all council house tenants (44%) affected by the bedroom tax have been pushed into arrears since April.
In Swansea, 38% of tenants in the city affected by the tax have fallen behind on their rent and in Cardiff, 616 families have experienced difficulties.
Wales TUC has welcomed the Welsh Government’s Smaller Properties Programme announced in August which provided £20 million in funding to help with the provision of smaller affordable homes.
Reacting to the figures Wales TUC National Officer, Julie Cook said,
“Today’s depressing news provides further proof that the Bedroom Tax is pushing families into complete despair. Disabled people who need space for their carers and families, and who have nowhere else to move, are being put at risk of debt and homelessness by the tax."