UNISON has today criticised the Welsh government’s budget for local authority spending as wholly inadequate. The trade union has warned thousands of jobs will be lost and local public services will be reduced or disappear completely because councils are under severe financial pressure.
UNISON also blasted Welsh government’s failure to fund the implement of the Foundation Living Wage to lift thousands of council workers out of in-work poverty, something it says could have been achieved with a relatively modest injection of cash.
Dominic MacAskill, UNISON head of local government said,
“Today’s news is grim indeed. People can’t understand why their library opening hours will have to be reduced or their youth club shut down in the name of austerity. Communities need quality local services otherwise they cease to be healthy and liveable places but councils are struggling to provide these and more – parks and leisure services, food hygiene and environment health services, on the meagre budgets Welsh government has today granted.
“Savage spending cuts might be directed by Westminster Conservatives but the Welsh government must see the lack of new money for local authorities in the announcement today will mean thousands more council jobs are lost and services at smaller councils might collapse altogether. Our warning couldn’t be starker: without a serious injection of cash, some councils will become unsustainable.
“Public service workers will be incredibly frustrated their concerns are not being listened to. Welsh government has missed an opportunity to lift thousands of hard working council staff out of in-work poverty by failing to fund the Foundation Living Wage for all local government employees. They agreed this was necessary in the NHS and the Civil Service, why can’t they do it for all public service workers?
“We are going to be campaigning right up to the autumn statement for an end to austerity and fair funding for Wales and we need to hear the Welsh government tell us they are on our side and protect local services.”
Notes to editors
- UNISON has called a #SaveOurServices march and mass rally on Saturday 4 November in the constituency of Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns MP. Gather at Kings Square, Barry, from midday. Family entertainment is planned. Public sector workers will march along Holton Road, Broad Street and on to Barry Train Station. All are welcome.
- UNISON has long been campaigning for a Living Wage in local government and took a lead in scoping the feasibility of its introduction for the Finance Minister.
Alastair Gittins, UNISON Press Officer on 07816 538397.