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‘Powys is creaking at the edges’

Created on 06/11/2019 @ 12:12
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By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

Tuesday, November 19, could be a huge day for cash-strapped Powys County Council (PCC) as it could find out if it will receive more money from the Welsh Government for next year’s budget.

The regional authority has been struggling to stay afloat amidst rising service costs and a cut to its central funding, but there could be good news coming in a fortnight.

At Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, portfolio holder for economic development, housing and regulatory services, Cllr James Evans, said: “Do we know anything about the provisional settlement for Powys?

“We can all see Powys is creaking at the edges, (the) Welsh Government are getting more money coming down the M4 now and we’re hoping that is passed on to Powys and local government.

“What work is the WLGA (Welsh Local Government Association) doing to put pressure on (the) Welsh Government? Our residents deserve better than this.”

Council leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris, said: “I think the announcement is on November 19. This is one of the reasons why we did the rural cost analysis, because we are the most hard pressed rural authority and the challenges facing us are huge.”

Head of finance, Jane Thomas, said that “unfortunately” she did not know more than they did.

Ms Thomas said: “We are continuing to work with the scenarios we started with.

“We are very keen to hear anything that would give us more assurance, particularly around teachers’ pay and pension funding which is a particular pressure for us.

“We’re expected to get provision al settlements towards the end of the month.”

Cllr Harris added that the rural cost analysis had been taken down to Cardiff and was “well received” by ministers and assembly members.

“There’s no reason why we can’t do that again, it’s important we do tell our story,” said Cllr Harris.

In September, PCC unveiled its rural cost analysis which is full of data showing how the scales of economy in the county are different to other local authorities in Wales.

PCC’s £247 million budget is made up of two elements, 30% comes from Council Tax and 70% comes from the Welsh Government.

When it comes to funding, PCC has been at the bottom of the list of local authorities in Wales for the last decade. This is due to a funding formula that helps urban councils but not rural ones.

PCC says that over the next three years it will have to cut somewhere between £30 million to £46 million and £100 million has already been cut during last decade.

In September, the UK Government announced a £600 million funding boost for the Welsh Government.

The Welsh Government claims, following a decade of austerity, that its funding is still £300 million less in real terms than it was in 2010/11.

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