Cuts to Welsh Council budgets "extremely challenging"
The reduction in the amount of money Welsh councils will have to spend next year has been revealed.
The Welsh Government has acknowledged the financial settlement is “extremely challenging” but says it has shielded local authorities from the full effects of Westminster cuts for the last three years to give them time to prepare.
Swansea Council’s budget is being cut by 3.1 per cent, Carmarthenshire’s and Neath Port Talbot’s by 3.9 per cent, and Powys by 4.6 per cent.
Local Government Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “I acknowledge this is an extremely challenging settlement for local government in Wales, which reflects the unprecedented, challenging financial context we are operating within
“For the last three years, the Welsh Government has shielded local government from the full force of the cuts to allow them to prepare for the transformational change necessary to maintain vital local services, whilst limiting any additional financial pressure on hard-pressed households.”
The average cut in budgets across Wales is 3.5 per cent.
Councils across Wales have already started consultations on the financial future — Swansea has to cut £45 million in three years and Carmarthenshire up to £18 million, while Neath Port Talbot has been looking at ways to save too, including shedding jobs and axing nine libraries.
Rob Stewart, Swansea Council’s cabinet member for finance, said the cash cut from Cardiff Bay was in line with what was expected.
He said: “We’ve already been consulting with local residents and most people I’ve talked to understand we are in tough times and the budget issue is a difficult position not of the council’s making.
“This isn’t simply about trying to save money. We have an opportunity to transform the Council by finding better ways of doing things to improve the services we provide.”
The leader of Carmarthenshire Council, Kevin Madge, said the 2014/15 settlement was one of the toughest it had ever received.
“We’ve already tightened our belts and made significant efficiency savings in the last few years, which is why it’s going to be hard to cut back further,” he said.
“However, by working together with our communities, we will stand a better chance of protecting front-line services and jobs.”