The recent budget announcement by the UK Chancellor has confirmed that a policy of austerity will potentially continue well into the next parliament, and will continue to impact on local public services in Wales.
Councillor Aaron Shotton (Flintshire), WLGA Spokesperson for Finance said:
“While it will take some time for the full impact of this budget to be felt in Wales, the continued programme of austerity within public spending signalled by the UK Chancellor means that local public services in Wales will continue to be placed under significant financial pressure well into the future.
“While much is being made of the UK’s return to economic health and growth, the truth of the matter is that the standard of living for communities, and the economic health of local public services in Wales, is in decline. While London and the south-east may be enjoying a fragile return to economic growth, household budgets in Wales continue to be squeezed by the same cost-of-living pressures that have already extracted such a significant toll from personal finances over the last six years, and our most vulnerable continue to be penalised disproportionately under UK Government welfare reforms.
“This budget represents yet another missed opportunity to drive growth while protecting the most vulnerable in our communities, and councils in Wales must now step up to the plate and support growth and services in their local areas. Much more can be done to build new homes, create new jobs and stimulate local economies, but local councils first need to be granted the flexible, consistent and reliable funding system that will allow them to do so.”
Councillor Anthony Hunt (Torfaen), WLGA Deputy Spokesperson for Finance added:
“Local government in Wales is now facing the most significant economic challenge in its history, and has been left facing a collective £290million shortfall in its budget for the coming year. The UK Government’s austerity programme has left Councils facing a crisis in public service expenditure, and when combined with the growth in public demand for services that we expect to see over the next period, it is estimated that Wales could face a £2.6billion shortfall in public service finances. This budget announcement does little to relieve or reform this situation and local public services will exist in a very torrid financial environment for many years to come.”