Councils facing two pressure points
COUNCILS across Wales are facing two big sources of pressure — financial and demand.
With limited tax and borrowing powers there is little scope for Welsh public services to increase funding, according to a Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) report.
Councils can, it said, increase charges for some services like parking.
Meanwhile, addressing the demand side of the equation was all about making services more efficient: to protect and even improve outcomes with fewer staff.
In pure financial terms, said the Future Pressure on Welsh Public Services report, savings were probably going to come through reductions on staff costs.
Separate analysis has found that the cost to councils of providing adult social care is set to rise by 66 per cent between 2010 and 2030.
Local authorities in Wales have been increasing spending on children's social services by an average of four per cent each year since 2006/7.
And the number of children and young people looked after by local authorities has risen by more than 33 per cent between 2003 and 2012.
"The critical point is that there is not a 'no risk, do nothing' option," said the report.
The WLGA warned that more than 66 per cent of spending cuts were yet to be felt in Wales.
"While council leaders acknowledge the need to make savings, local services such as libraries, schools, leisure centres and community facilities all play a vital role in promoting economic and community wellbeing in Wales, and reduce service pressures in other areas of the Welsh public sector such as the NHS," said WLGA deputy leader Aaron Shotton.
"Any hunt for short-term savings runs the risk of storing up significant difficulties for Wales in the future."
BY RICHARD YOULE