Following today’s Spending Review, council leaders are calling for any extra money received by the Welsh Government to be invested in essential local services.
The UK Government’s Spending Review outlines how funding will be allocated to Whitehall departments and to the devolved administrations.
In addition to the block grant for Welsh Government, any pledges of additional new money made by the Chancellor for schools, further education and the NHS will result in some extra consequential funding for Wales which local government is calling to be invested in local services.
The Chancellor announced an additional £600m for Wales. Investing this money in local services such as social care, schools and housing would give them and Welsh communities a desperately needed funding boost after a decade of punishing cuts.
Councillor Debbie Wilcox (Newport), Leader of WLGA:
“I welcome the UK Government’s announcement of extra resources for Wales today, but after 10 years of austerity we will need to see more detail to believe that it’s true. The announcement follows on from a letter that the Minister for Housing and Local Government and I sent jointly to the UK Government last month.”
“Although councils have had to carry the heaviest burden of public sector austerity for the last decade, they have continued to deliver vital services in communities in all parts of Wales. But councils’ ability to continue to provide services, with less and less money every year is now at an end.
“Much valued discretionary services have borne the brunt of funding reductions: real terms per capita library spend is down 38%, culture spending reduced by 45%, regulation and planning has reduced by nearly 60%. It’s clear that services cannot be delivered in the same way with such continual drastic funding reductions.”
“With fair and sustainable funding, and by working with the Welsh Government, over 700 vital council-run local and preventative services - from schools and social care to transport, trading standards, housing and beyond - could contribute so much more to the wellbeing of our communities.
“Leaders recognise that the Welsh Government has prioritised health in recent years, and have accepted the promise by the First Minister, Finance Minister and Minister for Housing and Local Government that vital local services would be first in line for any additional funding heading to Cardiff Bay. There is now an opportunity for the Welsh Government to deliver on that commitment and to reinvest in public services.”
Councillor Anthony Hunt (Torfaen), WLGA Spokesperson Finance & Resources said:
“Austerity has impacted on all Welsh communities, with vital local services being subject to the harshest cuts across the public sector. Key services, like schools, social care for the vulnerable and housing, are at breaking point after a decade of crushing austerity. It is vital that these services are invested in, otherwise they will continue to wither on the vine.”
“Council services are a large part of the local health service. Investment in council-run early intervention and preventative council services, which help to keep people away from hospitals and surgery waiting rooms, means reducing the costly burden of ill health on the NHS.
“But concerns including workforce costs in schools, social care and other frontline services continue to cast its shadow over local government and inhibit authorities’ ability to plan ahead. It is imperative that local services have first call on additional resources that flow down the M4 from Westminster, or key preventative services will suffer and services like the NHS will see demand soar as a result.”
Councils have continued to deliver essential local services to communities despite losing around £1bn in funding and nearly 37,000 jobs in the local government workforce since the onset of austerity almost a decade ago. But leaders have consistently warned that cuts-stricken services will not be able to absorb any future budget reductions.
After a decade of austerity, click here to find out why councils are calling for a fair funding settlement for essential local services