Council condemns 'depressing and unjust' Welsh Government settlement
Conwy County Borough Council has condemned the Welsh Government’s provisional settlement pointing out that it is the worst issued to an authority in Wales. It leaves Conwy facing a shortfall of at least £16million.
Councillors had already warned that essential services could be cut and a significant council tax increase would be required in order to try and close the gap. They said the provisional settlement – which is worse than feared - did nothing but pile more pressure on council services, particularly those supporting the most vulnerable.
Council leader Cllr Gareth Jones said: “The settlement is depressing and disappointing. Councils are being asked to provide more and more services with less and less, year in, year out. These continued cuts don’t just threaten our valuable work but do little to help people and threaten the fabric of Welsh life.
“We are also bound by increasing amounts of legislation and national agreements from the EU, from central Government and the Welsh Government. Each new piece of legislation brings with it a significant cost which is not funded. As an authority, we constantly have to make difficult decisions in challenging circumstances whilst balancing the books. The current settlement models are not sustainable.”
Conwy is one of the hardest hit councils along with other North Wales authorities - Isle of Anglesey and Flintshire.
Cllr Jones said the settlement took ‘no appropriate heed of demographics’ and did nothing to account for the fact that the percentage of the population in Conwy aged 65 and over is the highest in Wales.
“When it comes to determining any settlement, having an older population and being a rural area actually works against us, as the Welsh Government tends to inject the cash in areas with younger populations. This is counter-productive as we need to be providing the best possible service for all of the people of Conwy, regardless of age or need. We want to support the most vulnerable in our society but are being asked to do that whilst cuts continually rain down on us,” he said.
The authority had already asked the Welsh Government to reflect the escalating cost crisis in funding children's care services when setting its provisional budget for local authorities.
Cllr Jones added: “The demand on our social care services, which impact on and support the Health and Wellbeing agenda, is increasing but the funding within the settlement doesn’t reflect that – our pleas are falling on deaf ears. Settlements like this once again put us in a position where we will be forced to look at cuts to service budgets that will include many of our preventative and therefore health supporting services and a significant increase in council tax to plug the gaps. It’s nowhere near good enough.”
The council has already made savings of £48million over the last six years. The council said it had a ‘battle on’ between now and the Welsh Government’s final settlement announcement in December.
Posted on 10/10/2018