Welsh Government must do more to tackle the immense pressures Local Authorities in Wales are facing after a decade of austerity, Plaid Cymru’s Assembly Member for Ynys Môn Rhun ap Iorwerth has said.
After suffering real-terms cuts to their budgets over a number of years, Local Authorities in Wales are facing pressures of over £250m for the coming financial year, and Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Economy and Finance Rhun ap Iorwerth believes Welsh Government has to do more to aid Councils across Wales cope with these pressures, or risk further cuts to vital services.
In a question to Welsh Government Finance Minister Rebecca Evans in the National Assembly for Wales on Wednesday, Mr ap Iorwerth asked for assurances that a real-terms increase in funding for Local Government for the coming year would be prioritised, to which the Minister replied in noting Welsh Government wants to give the ‘best possible settlement’.
Warning of the possibility of further cuts to essential services, Mr ap Iorwerth responded, saying:
“Welsh Government saying they want to give Local Government the ‘best possible settlement’ doesn’t fill me with confidence, and I’m fairly sure that it won’t give Councils across Wales much confidence either.
“In the past a flat settlement for Local Government has been sold as good news, but it isn’t. Anglesey County Council say they will need £6m just to stand still. That is the reality of the situation.
“Councils are facing pressures of over a quarter of a billion pounds in the next financial year and with budgets previously having being cut with discretion, there is nowhere left for councils to go now without cutting children’s services and education and we cannot afford to cut those areas.
“Anglesey County Council had to make the difficult decision to increase council tax by up to 10% last year. They cannot think about increasing it by the same amount next year, and many other councils are facing the same problems.
“We cannot go back to Welsh taxpayers and ask them to fill in the gap, because there is already incredible pressure on them – Welsh Government must give more funding to Local Government to solve this funding crisis.”