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Welsh council cuts capped at 4.5%

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Local authorities in Wales face an overall 3.4% cut in funding next year, provisional settlement figures reveal.

Public services minister Leighton Andrews announced yesterday that the Welsh government would provide total funding of £4.1bn in revenue support grant to councils in 2015-16. He said this was a 3.4% decrease on what they received this year on a like-for-like basis.

Ceredigion faces the biggest year-on-year reduction – of 4.5% – from £103,889,000 in 2014-15 to £99,256,000 in 2015-16. Neath Port Talbot is in line for the smallest budget cut, at 2.4%.

Mr Andrews acknowledged the settlement was “challenging” but said it was a consequence of budget reductions imposed by the UK government.

“The Welsh government’s budget for 2015-16 will be around 10% lower in real terms compared with 2010-11,” he added. 

“However, unlike England, we have protected local authorities in Wales from the bulk of these cuts over the past five years. Spending on local services in England has decreased by around 7% in cash terms, while in Wales it has increased by 3%. 

“To limit the impact next year for any individual council, I am putting in place a damping mechanism so that no authority will see a year-on-year reduction of more than 4.5%.”

Mr Andrews said he was providing an additional £10m “in recognition of the importance of strong local social services to the long-term success of the health service in Wales” and would continue to protect school funding in line with the commitment to increase resources at 1% above the overall change in the Welsh budget. 

“When local authorities draw up their budget plans for next year I expect them to look at all income streams, including council tax and income from fees and charges,” he added. “In setting council tax levels, I urge them to balance the funding challenges they face with consideration of the financial burden facing households.”

The settlement provides £244m for a council tax reduction scheme for eligible applicants.  

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