The Welsh Local Government Association has slated the Welsh Assembly’s final budget for public services, published yesterday, as being the worst local government settlement since devolution.
Describing the document as “little more than an exercise in window dressing”, since the draft budget proposals were published in November, the WLGA said the increase in funding, to at least 2% across all local authorities, would not deal with the scale of problems faced by councils.
In total, this amounts to an extra £3.64bn over the next three years, increasing the total budget to more than £16bn by 2010-11, but on average this will only amount to an increase from 2.3% to 2.4% across Wales, said the WLGA.
Service cuts warning
When the Assembly published its draft budget proposals on 5 November, the WGLA argued, during the consultation period, that an average 2.2% increase for local authorities would lead to service cuts and redundancies.
But although the Assembly met the WLGA’s call for at least a 2% increase for all councils, the rise still remains below inflation, said the WLGA.
Difficult choices ahead
Derek Vaughan, WLGA leader, said: “I find it very sad that our warnings have not been heeded and that we face a significant range of difficult choices ahead. The lack of investment in our future is unforgettable.”
However, Andrew Davies, finance and public service delivery minister, did not agree. Davies said: “Our ambition is to make Wales a better place in which to work and live for all of the people of Wales, particularly the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.”
On 22 January, Assembly members will vote on the final budget.