The WLGA has welcomed a Wales Audit Office report highlighting the work done by councils in Wales to improve their financial resilience during tough economic times.
The ‘Financial resilience of local authorities in Wales’ report emphasises how councils continue to experience a period of significant funding reduction, and how they should be planning for the future to better manage sustained budgets reductions.
In evaluating local council resilience, the report summarises that local government’s financial planning processes are ‘strengthening’, but also that spending within budgets continues to be a challenge due to such a difficult economic climate.
Commenting on the report Cllr Aaron Shotton (Flintshire), WLGA Deputy Leader and Spokesperson for Finance said:
“We welcome this report, which recognises an improvement in financial planning at a time when the funding for local councils in Wales has contracted by nearly a fifth over recent years.
“The future still remains uncertain. The continued impacts of austerity, coupled with the as yet unclear implications of ‘Brexit’ will all require councils to continue to cope with significant financial uncertainty and evolve their responses.
“Council reserves are a clear example of how councils must continue to plan for the future. These reserves can only be spent once and as the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) has emphasised, current council reserve levels directly reflect the success local authorities are having in planning beyond single year budget horizons.
“Local councils must now continue to seek ever greater consistency in their approach, and we will continue to work with our members, finance professionals and the Welsh Government to improve and to deliver the reforms we so desperately need in how local councils are funded. Key to this reform will be the need for a longer-term financial framework at the national level”.