Councils in Wales are still examining the consequences of the UK budget. The WLGA has proposed the following measures to assist council tax payers across Wales. It is vital that more money is invested into core services especially schools, social care, transport, mental health services and a host of others.
WLGA has called for the following -
• For any money announced in today’s budget coming into Wales to be placed in its entirety into core local services like schools, social care and transport
- For Welsh Government to implement its “first in the queue” pledge and passport any new funds into local government and thereby ease the burden on council tax payers.
• For Welsh Government to bolster funding of local services by putting all specific grants announced outside of the settlement this year into core funding e.g. the £15m for schools.
• For an increase in floor funding to raise the budgets of those councils languishing at -1%.
• Finally, that the teachers’ pension issue must be resolved otherwise any new money will be swallowed up.
Councillor Debbie Wilcox (Newport), WLGA Leader said:
“This is yet another intensely difficult UK Budget which doesn’t provide the end to austerity promised by the Prime Minister. Local government in Wales is continuing to bear the brunt of austerity and next year is the year when workforce costs reach a peak. We really are at a tipping point. All 22 leaders wrote to the Welsh Government this morning urging it to do everything in its power to restore flexibility in grant funding so that we can react locally to inflationary pressures in education and social care. Without that flexibility we fear for jobs in education, social care and other areas that will impact on the quality of service provision.
“We appreciate the Welsh Government listening and committing to put local government “first in the queue” for any additional money to help ease the burden of austerity for people in Wales by investing in local public services.”
Councillor Anthony Hunt (Torfaen), WLGA Spokesperson Finance & Resources said:
“It is essential that local services have first call on additional resources that flow to the Welsh block. We remain concerned about workforce costs and especially the hike in employer contributions to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme which will leave schools in a desperate situation. There is still an opportunity in the Welsh context to improve the situation using the Welsh Government budget and some of the additional funding that flows from the Chancellor’s proposals.
“We know that austerity has impacted upon every aspect of Welsh communities. Like Welsh Government, the 22 councils greatly look forward to a time when this policy has ended. Until then, however, we have to work together to secure the future of vital services across Wales.”