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Council leaders warn that cuts leave local services at 'breaking point'

Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA Images

Funding for Welsh councils is set to fall again next year leaving local authorities having to make further cuts.

Local Government Secretary Alun Davies AM published the local government finance statement today, which sets out how much money each council will get for the next financial year. The Welsh Government says local authorities will receive £4.213bn (£4,213,840,000) in core funding for 2019/20, down 0.3% from £4.226bn (£4,226,136,000). Those figures do not take into account inflation and, when asked, government officials were not able to give a figure for the reduction in real terms.

In last week's draft budget, Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said local government and public services would lose around £97m in real terms. Local Government Secretary Alun Davies said the government recognised the difficulties councils are facing.

Local Government Secretary Alun Davies says its up to local authorities how they set their council tax. Credit: ITV Wales

The draft Budget last week also included a series of additional grants for local government, including £30m for social care and £15m for education and the restoration of other funding streams where cuts had previously been announced. While we have worked hard to offer local government the best settlement possible, we recognise this settlement is a real terms cut in core funding, at a time when authorities face real pressures from an increase in demand from an ageing population; pay awards and other inflationary pressures. As we have made clear in discussions with our colleagues in local government, we recognise the pressures they are facing and will continue to do all we can to shield them from the worst effects of austerity.

– Alun Davies AM, Local Government Secretary

Rural local authorities like Monmouthshire, Anglesey, Conwy, Flintshire and Powys, will bear the brunt of cuts. Council tax across Wales rose by 4% last year, with Pembrokeshire residents seeing a rise of 12%.

This table shows the amount each council will receive without taking into inflation into account. Credit: Welsh Government

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) described the settlement as a 'deeply disappointing outcome.' It has written to Education Secretary Kirsty Williams AM warning that cuts could lead to a gap of £57m in education funding alone, which it says equates to losing 1,300 teachers or 2,400 teaching assistants.

Council leaders have also voiced concerns over the future of local services if funding cuts continue.

As councils, we have tightly managed our budget throughout austerity, making efficiency savings year after year. But, after eight years of deep cuts, the future of vital local services is at stake.

As well as having to deal with cuts upon cuts, the build-up of pressures in areas such as looked after children and services for older or vulnerable people are completely outstripping our existing resources. To cut these services further makes no sense; doing so will only place more pressure on other public services including the NHS...

As councils, we have tightly managed our budget throughout austerity, making efficiency savings year after year. But, after eight years of deep cuts, we are fast reaching breaking point for local services.

– Cllr Anthony Hunt, WLGA finance spokesperson

Further details of the Welsh Government budget will be published on October 23rd.