Latest Public Sector News

18.02.19

‘Enough is enough’: Powys County Council speaks out against cuts and demands fair deal from government

A Welsh authority set to increase its council tax by nearly 10% has publicly spoken out about the unfair funding formula for councils, and has urged the first minister to enter talks to deliver “a fair deal.”

Powys County Council last week backed a 9.5% tax hike and approved a total of £12m in cuts, with office staff numbers to be reduced and buildings sold as its cabinet member for adult services warned the authority was headed into “uncharted waters.”

Now the council’s leader and cabinet have written an open letter to first minister Mark Drakeford calling for him to meet with them immediately to discuss changing the funding formula used to allocate funding for councils across Wales, warning that “enough is enough.”

Council leader Rosemarie Harris wrote: “Powys and other rural authorities have suffered underfunding for many years as a result of the funding formula and their residents have had to pay the price with council tax increases and reduced services.

“Enough is enough. It is time that the funding formula underwent a comprehensive review and that rural authorities like Powys had a fair deal.

“We are not asking for special treatment, but for fair play, our residents deserve to be treated equitably and that means accepting that the way money is distributed is no longer relevant.”

The county council saw its central government funding reduced once again last year, and had the “unenviable position” of holding the poorest settlement in Wales in nine out of the last 10 years.

Announcing the budget cuts last week, including the equivalent tax increase of £100 a month, Powys’ deputy leader Aled Davies said the financial settlement had left the council in a difficult financial position, and was “the hardest faced by the council.”

The council stressed that the financial and social environment facing local government has “changed beyond all recognition” and therefore needs to change.

Now, wrote Harris, “we are calling on the first minister to meet with us and agree to fundamental review of the country's funding formula to make sure it is fit for purpose and is fair to every council in Wales, residents no matter where they live deserve to be treated fairly.”

“We know that councillors, residents and politicians from right across rural Wales echo our call for fair funding and we welcome their support.”

 Image credit - Jaggery

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