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Welsh councils criticise 'top-slicing'

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Local councils in Wales are calling on the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) to stop top-slicing efficiency savings from their budgets.

The WAG takes a 1% efficiency saving from the local government settlement before it reaches authorities, which is then re-invested by the assembly government in its other priorities.

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) has called for this money, which works out at£38m and is equivalent to a 4% council tax rise across Wales, to go direct to local authorities so that they can keep council tax rises down.

WLGA leader Cllr John Davies said: “Re-investing the£38m in efficiency gains or a large proportion of it directly into the hands of council tax payers is a “win win” outcome.

"It would be Wales’ own unique contribution to helping people who are suffering from higher bills and financial problems but would also show the concerted effort of all tiers of elected government in Wales to help their communities.”

WLGA finance spokesperson Cllr Rodney Berman said that the WAG also needed to review its 'One Wales' programme of service improvements in the light of the current downturn.

Cllr Berman said: “In the light of the economic recession we also call on the Assembly Government to revisit its “One Wales” programme and priorities. There has been concern in some quarters of local government that the existing commitments in ‘One Wales’ may not be affordable.

"Now, in the light of the current economic downturn it is timely to review this programme which is nearly two years old and which was outlined during significantly more buoyant economic times.”

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