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Neath Port Talbot Politics South Wales

Welsh council leader warns of ‘very worrying’ times ahead

Steve Hunt Nptc leader (Pic: Neath Port Talbot Council)

A WELSH council leader has warned of “very worrying” times ahead this month  if there is a decrease in funding for local councils.

The leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, Cllr Steve Hunt said he would continue campaigning for increased funding for local authorities across Wales, after what had been two challenging years with budget pressures.

The long-term member who represents Crynant, Onllwyn and Seven Sisters spoke at Neath Port Talbot’s annual general meeting in May, where he was re-elected as leader alongside deputy Councillor Alun Llewelyn for a third year.

He said: “After two extremely challenging budgets, my focus this year will be on maintaining a stable council and preparing for an even more difficult budget position from 2025-26.

“Over the last two financial years we’ve faced new costs of £70m but received just £27m in additional funding via the Welsh Government’s Revenue Support Grant.

“The budget gap we faced required renewed focus on cost control and new income sources. I thank all the council officers and trade union partners for their support in achieving a balanced budget while still protecting jobs and the services our residents rely on. At this time, the Welsh Government is indicating a 0% Revenue Support Grant Settlement for 2025-26 or even a reduced grant.

“At a time when we still have the effect of inflation and unfunded pay pressures in the system, families continuing to struggle with the cost of living and very high levels of demand across services, the proposed settlement is very worrying.”

The general meeting came just months after Neath Port Talbot Council approved its final budget for the 2024-25 financial year, which included a 7.9% increase in council tax for residents as well as £8.8 million worth of savings, caused by what were described as “unprecedented pressure on budgets and soaring demand for services”

Cllr Hunt added:  “I’ve already written jointly with trade unions to Ministers pointing out the consequences of this strategy but there will be further representations made, including through the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) over the coming months and I urge you to make representations through your own channels.

“Also, we’ll continue working on the range of economic development opportunities that are so important in bringing new, well paid jobs to our area. This of course takes on even more importance given the impact of the changes proposed at Tata Port Talbot. As we do this work, we will be particularly focusing on how local people and businesses can be helped to take advantage of the new opportunities we’re working hard to secure.”

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