Home » Conwy and Gwynedd receive lowest settlements in Wales
Anglesey Anglesey Conwy Denbighshire Flintshire Gwynedd North Wales Politics Politics Politics Politics Politics Politics Wrexham

Conwy and Gwynedd receive lowest settlements in Wales

TWO North Wales councils have received the lowest local government settlements in the country. Both Conwy and Gwynedd will get just a 2% budget increase.

Denbighshire, at 3.7%, received the most in the region while Newport in Gwent, south Wales, had the highest settlement in Wales, receiving a 4.7% hike. Flintshire will receive the third lowest rise in Wales at 2.2%, Anglesey an additional 2.5%, and Wrexham 3.2%.

Other south Wales councils such as Cardiff and Swansea received increases of 4.1% and 3.8% respectively. The average increase across Wales is 3.1%, and leaders are already warning the below inflation settlements will inevitably mean large council tax rises and cuts in already stretched services.

Conwy County Council leader, Cllr Charlie McCoubrey, has warned “difficult decisions” lie ahead as the council will attempt to balance the books after years of year-on-year poor settlements. He said: “I’m very disappointed that, yet again, Conwy’s settlement is the lowest in Wales.

“And although any increase is welcome, it will not be sufficient to meet the funding shortfall that the council faces as a result of national pay awards, inflation, energy and fuel prices, and the increased demand for services.” The authority has previously said it needs to fill a £24.5 million financial black hole.

Cllr McCoubrey added: “We’ll be studying the provisional settlement in more detail over the coming weeks to fully understand the implications for the services we provide. There’s a lot of work to be done and, I fear, some difficult decisions to be made.”

online casinos UK

Gwynedd Council leader, Cllr Dyfrig Siencyn, had a similarly bleak reaction: “This announcement is a heavy blow for local government in Wales, and for Gwynedd in particular,” he said.

“Whilst we are grateful to the Welsh Finance Minister for putting in place a 2% funding floor, Gwynedd will receive the lowest contribution of all the Welsh councils towards the funding of our local services. We have been warning for some time about the looming financial storm, and this announcement confirms that the clouds above us are about to burst.

“As a council, Gwynedd has suffered financial shortfalls for more than 12 years, and we have already had to respond by delivering nearly £70m of savings since 2010 by introducing new and more efficient ways of working. Throughout this prolonged period of financial pain, we have managed to protect frontline services for the most vulnerable people in Gwynedd.”

He added: “It goes without saying that we will continue to explore every possible avenue to avoid painful service cuts. But, with this latest announcement, we have realistically reached the very end of what is possible without cutting services and raising council tax.”

Flintshire’s leader Cllr Ian Roberts echoed the Gwynedd leader’s statement. “Unfortunately, Flintshire County Council finds itself at the lower end of the settlement once again,” he said. “We were told that there would be an average increase of 3.1%, yet we have received only 2.2%, the third lowest in Wales. Flintshire is already facing a budget gap of £11.090m in 2024/25, and this settlement will only serve to increase this further.

“Even before the blow of this settlement announcement, our work in setting a legally balanced budget for 2024/25 has been proving to be extremely difficult and challenging. There needs to be a fundamental review of the way in which the Welsh Local Government funding formula works and the increasing gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ in Wales.”

He added: “We will be making the strongest possible representations to Welsh Government and to members of the Senedd about this very, very disappointing settlement for the people of Flintshire.”

Denbighshire County Council’s 3.7% equates to an additional £6.7m in cash terms. But the latest estimate is that delivering day-to-day services will cost an additional £24.5m compared with this year.

Council leader Cllr Jason McLellan said, “The council has been developing its budget for the next financial year for many months. An increase of 3% in funding from Welsh Government had been used in forecasts to date.

“Whilst the increase above our planning assumption is welcomed and is positive, it does not materially change the unprecedented financial challenge we face. All options to reduce costs across the authority continue to be explored.”

Gwyneth Ellis, Denbighshire’s lead member for finance, added, “Challenging times lie ahead for us as a council as we, like local authorities throughout Wales, face unprecedented continuing pressure on our budget due to rising costs and a sustained increase in demand for services. Despite an expected increase in funding of £6.7m by Welsh Government, this still leaves a funding gap of £17.8m.

The settlement is not sufficient to meet the cost pressures we are facing.

“Like local authorities across Wales, the council has a statutory duty to set a balanced budget and must do so through finding savings and efficiencies, increasing charges for services, increases in council tax or by reducing or cutting services.”

Author