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Council slams ‘inadequate’ Westminster funding as ‘raw deal’ for Wales

Caerphilly County Borough Council (Pic: LDRS)

RISHI SUNAK’S government’s funding for councils is “utterly inadequate” and “a raw deal for the people of Wales”, the leader of Caerphilly Council has said.

Sean Morgan decried Westminster’s funding settlement to the Welsh Government – which is then shared out among the nation’s 22 councils – as being too low to cover essential services.

Cllr Sean Morgan (Pic: CCBC)

His calls for Caerphilly Council to “condemn” the current funding levels and demand a “fair” deal won the unanimous support of councillors in the chamber at a meeting on Tuesday (February 27).

A UK Government source told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the money Westminster gave to Wales should be prioritised for public services instead of “vanity projects” such as 20mph speed limits and more Senedd members.

The current Conservative UK Government was providing Wales with “the largest funding settlement… in the history of devolution”, they added.

Cllr Morgan, however, suggested the increase in funding to Wales in the next two years would barely keep up with rising costs.

Caerphilly Council has warned it needs to make a further £45 million of savings over the same period.

The leader said in his motion the UK Government’s planned settlement to Wales would “go nowhere near meeting the inflationary pressures faced by services in Wales”.

“It is a raw deal for the people of Wales and shows how the UK Government cares about the people of Wales,” he added.

Lindsay Whittle, leader of the council’s Plaid Cymru group, told the meeting “there are times when all political parties in Wales need to… fight this oppression”.

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Nigel Dix, the leader of the council’s independent group, said he was happy to support the motion but argued money given to Wales should be passed onto local government rather than spent on national projects.

“It has to be spent wisely”, he added.

The condemnation of funding levels came as councillors voted on the final budget proposals for the coming financial year – a tricky time for decision-makers who have to justify to residents their plans to increase council tax rates and make other savings.

The local authority’s position is that a 6.9% hike on residents’ council tax bills in April is necessary, given the lower rise in central government funding.

The Welsh Government has increased support to councils by an average 3.3% this year, but Caerphilly will receive a 2.5% rise – one of the lowest in Wales.

Finance minister Rebecca Evans said on Tuesday that the Welsh Government had “prioritised protecting core frontline public services as far as possible” and was “supporting the hardest hit households and prioritising jobs, where we can”.

At the Caerphilly Council meeting the same day, Cllr Morgan said he had made the Welsh Government “well aware” of the his position on reduced funding settlements.