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Austerity: We are only half way there

Created on 09/11/2016 @ 08:09
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Councils in Wales are not even half way through the austerity driven funding cuts, Powys councillors have been told at a national local government conference.

Local Government Minister Mark Drakeford gave the stark warning to county council delegates at the Welsh Local Government Association Annual Conference in Cardiff.

He strongly advised councils to use the period provided by a slightly better settlement for the 2017/18 financial year to plan for some very tough budget settlements that will follow in future years.

Councillor Wynne Jones, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and one of the council’s representatives on the WLGA said: “A recent report on funding for Welsh Councils by the Institute of Fiscal Studies warned that we could be facing year on year austerity driven funding cuts for the next 11 years.

“This was the first time that we have had the situation quantified as far as monetary terms and been given information as to the progress on the ‘journey’.”

“Powys County Council has achieved over £60m of savings against a target of £83m by 2019 and the prospect of having to find a further £60-70m of savings over the next few years is simply horrendous.

“The council’s current net budget of £240m with three areas accounting for more than 70% of our spend - Adult Social Care service, which has the fastest growing demand, has a budget of £56m; Childrens Services, a highly sensitive area, has a budget of £16m and Education, an area where change has proved difficult to achieve due to opposition, has a budget of £100m. That gives around £68m to fund everything else and the additional savings will impact on all areas of the Council.

“The future funding outlook is quite simply horrendous, but we can’t ignore it and have to change our planning from one that assumed that austerity cuts would finish in 2020, to a much more challenging situation.

“Any ideas that the better than anticipated funding for next year marked a change in approach have been dispelled and the choices we face as we move forward are far more difficult than before.”


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