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Taxpayers paying more money for fewer services, research reveals

A new report by Cardiff University's Wales Governance Centre (WGC) suggests taxpayers are paying more money for fewer services.

Researchers suggest the equivalent of £232 less is being spent on each person in Wales.

Despite increasing Council Tax, councils still face a shortfall.

Despite raising council tax to meet the shortfall, the report suggests local authorities have still been left with £577m less in 2017-8, compared to 2009-10.

The Wales Governance Centre said "taxpayers are effectively paying more money for fewer services".

This report outlines how nearly a decade of austerity has significantly changed the financing and spending patterns of local authorities in Wales. It's clear from our findings that taxpayers are effectively paying more money for fewer services.

We predict that Council Tax rates will continue to rise and could account for a quarter of all local authority revenue by 2023/24, as county halls try to balance the books and deal with increasing demands for services.

– Guto Ifan, Wales Governance Centre

The report lists a number of services impacted by funding cuts since 2009:

- 5.5%
Reduction in spending per school pupil
- 14.8%
Reduction in spending per person for older adults' social care
37,000
Local government jobs lost in Wales

During the same period funding for libraries, culture, sport and recreation has been cut by 36.3%. The budget for transport has suffered a 28.5% reduction.

Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA Images

Responding to the report, a spokesperson for the Welsh Local Government Association pointed to the policy of austerity that has impacted on funding.

Since 2009-10, local government budgets have been cut by almost £1bn as a result of austerity which has forced local authorities to make very difficult decisions, including increasing council tax, in order to try and meet the shortfall. Each authority's circumstances will differ but they will all be considering, to a greater or lesser extent, how much council tax to raise to partially offset cuts. Each year local authorities face annual pressures of around £200m due to higher wage bills and demographic pressures while Welsh Government funding reduces in real terms. Although council leaders' dialogue with Welsh Government has resulted in an announcement of additional funding this year, it still represents a real terms cut for councils, meaning they will have little recourse but to continue to make difficult decisions and prioritise services in the future.

– Spokesperson for WLGA