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Welsh councils have lost ‘an army’ of council workers to austerity spending cuts

More than 28,000 local authority jobs have been lost in Wales since 2010 as a result of severe spending cuts to councils driven by the UK Government.

Analysis published by Unison in its ‘Audit of Austerity’ report reveals that five out of six jobs at Welsh councils have gone, with 19 of the 22 councils in Wales losing more than 500 jobs.

Six councils have lost more than 2000 council jobs, and the report also found that women were more adversely affected by cuts than men were, with women representing 18,400 of the lost jobs.

This is all despite local government in Wales spending £3.5bn and employing over 10% of the Welsh workforce, acting as the “economic bedrock of Wales,” the union says.

The Welsh Government said it had offered local government “the best possible settlement in this ninth year of austerity” and as it faces £850m cut to its budget over the last decade.

Head of local government at Unison Cymru Wales, Bethan Thomas, said: “If 28,000 private sector jobs were threatened, governments would drop everything to ask the business ‘how can we help?’ There would be promises of investment and a special taskforce.

“Yet, the Conservative government is completely indifferent to the same number of public service jobs losses it has caused in Wales by starving Welsh Government and Welsh councils of money.

“Stripping funds available to councils means we have lost an army of librarians; youth workers; school support staff; leisure centre staff; carers; highways maintenance workers; social workers; environmental health inspectors, and more. Council services are disappearing before our eyes.”

Last month, the Welsh Government Association warned that a “financial winter is coming” which could see job losses reach up to 7,000 in Wales without extra financial backing.

Thomas continued: “Public demand for services is still there. People expect the bins to be emptied, the roads to be swept, the vulnerable to be cared for and their children to be well educated.

“We are at crisis point. It is only thanks to the dedication of council workers going beyond the call that our local services are functioning at all. There is no more scope for cuts in public services.”

Additional local authority resources were announced last week by the Welsh Government, raising the funding floor and providing another £13m for core council services.

It did warn that this remains a particularly challenging financial settlement, but said that this was despite “significant progress” in their ongoing deliberations prior to the finalisation of the Welsh budget.


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