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Friday, September 28, 2018

The crisis facing Welsh Councils

Pleas from Welsh Councils for more cash has been a standard since I first got involved in politics here over 35 years ago.

Even in the so-called good years of the early 2000s, when there seemed to be plenty of money about, we were being assailed with reports from the WLGA about the need for more money to invest in our infrastructure, and every budget round was an exercise in hand-wringing as councillors sought to balance increasing costs against limited resources.

It is fair to say though that the budget situation since the 2008 crash has been harder. All councils have had to make deep cuts whilst seeking to protect key frontline services, to the extent that there is now very little fat, if any at all, that can be carved out of budgets.

This has been made worse by the additional pressures being put on council budgets by an aging population and the impact of public service cuts elsewhere, as well as welfare benefit changes. Although it has to be said that Wales has fared much better than England in terms of council funding.

So when the Chief Executive of the WLGA tells us that local councils in Wales may have to shed 7,000 jobs a year unless they get more funding there is little reason to doubt him. This equates to 5% of their workforce but council leaders cannot say how many compulsory redundancies could be made.

The Welsh Local Government Association has also repeated a complaint that county halls have faced much bigger cuts than the NHS. Despite this it is local health boards that are facing huge deficits, whilst councils are so far managing to balance their books. Both are facing painful decisions.

There is a balance to be struck here, and I don't envy the Welsh Government in seeking to strike it. Whatever they decide to do, they are stymied by the fact that there is not enough money in the system and there is unlikely to be enough whilst costs and the demand for services continues to grow at the rate they are.
Some (all) Tories are talking about cutting taxes to give the people more money in their pockets.Therefore those with will get,those without have to survive on scraps (less money cos of tax cuts hits the MNHS State pension? etc). Their is no guarantee of a booming economy after Brexit.To maintain the status quo taxes will have to rise, cutting taxes only will benefit those who all ready have money. The crisis facing councils will only make us poorer.
Councils are taking a hit cos of austerity, why is it continuing?
Is it cos the Tories want to cut the deficit?
Is it cos Brexit will be bad so money is being saved to cushion it?
Is it cos the Tories want to maintain the status quo (to keep the us and them Labour Tory system going)?
Is it cos they hate the EU and want to blame them for our position(look at www.myeu.uk to see what EU funds near you are for)
Is it cos they hate Councils running things (not free market obsession)?
Add others as you see fit
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