The news that most of Wales’ councils will see budget cuts or freezes comes as the final financial settlement for local authorities was released today by the Welsh Labour-led Government.
Despite an extra £23.6m being put aside for 2019/20, the majority of councils still lose out, with nine receiving cash terms cuts, with four others having their funding frozen. All 22 councils will still suffer from real terms cuts.
The changes were made following calls for previous Finance Secretary – now First Minister – Mark Drakeford to pass on extra money that had come from the UK Government onto councils, particularly preventive services to fulfil expectations for them to deliver these in partnerships with health boards.
In North Wales, five of the six councils will receive a smaller Budget than the previous year, while Denbighshire will have a funding freeze.
The Conservatives run Monmouthshire, Wrexham, and the Vale of Glamorgan and are part of the ruling administrations of Powys and Conwy. All of these councils will have their funding cut by the Welsh Government, while six Labour-run councils will have increases.
In the Autumn Budget, the UK Conservative Government announced an extra £550m for Wales over the next three years. As a result, the Welsh Government will receive the largest block grant in its history next year.
The motion for the National Assembly for Wales to approve the Local Government Finance Report for 2019/20 is scheduled for debate on 15 January 2019.
Commenting, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Local Government Minister Mark Isherwood AM, said:
“After calls from councils, voters, opposition parties, backbenchers, and even ministers, the Welsh Labour Government’s final budget has still failed to deliver fair funding for local authorities.
“The Welsh Government is getting generous block grants from Westminster but blames them when it is their decision alone on how to share that money across Wales.
“And their message is clear that they want to share that money among their voters but not for those who don’t vote Labour. This is cronyism of the highest order and council tax payers in North Wales will be especially disappointed.
“The Welsh Conservatives want an independent review of the local government funding formula to prevent further regional inequality in Wales, something which has gone from bad to worse during Welsh Labour’s twenty years in charge.”