Councillors and local government workers from across Wales will gather in Cardiff today (Friday) to discuss how the dire state of funding councils threatens public services such as adult care, road maintenance, libraries, leisure centres and food hygiene inspection and even the collapse of some councils.
UNISON Cymru Wales, which has organised the event, says eight years of Westminster-driven severe spending cuts have stripped Welsh councils of £1.6billion, cost 28,100 local authority jobs and brought services to crisis point.
The trade union continues to campaign for an end to Westminster-driven austerity and will use the seminar to promote innovative ways local authorities might generate additional income by offering their services commercially to other organisations and businesses.
UNISON is also keen to show how significant monies might be saved by bringing contracted-out services back in house. The trade union also says when services such as adult care, are run directly by councils, they are of better quality for the local community.
Dominic MacAskill, UNISON Cymru Wales head of local government said,
“The alarm bell is sounding for the future of public services in our local communities. Wales has been deprived of funding by the UK Government and local councils have suffered as a result.
“Westminster’s severe spending cuts have thrown thousands of council workers in Wales out of jobs. If you’ve thought more investment in council adult social care might have kept your nana out of hospital and in her own home or moaned the local library or youth club has shut down or the leisure centre hasn’t been refurbished in years or your car has bumped a pothole which hasn’t been mended, this is what austerity looks like. It must end now.
“UNISON’s seminar will examine how services and councils themselves can remain financially viable in this hostile climate and why taking contracted-out services back in-house benefits everybody.”
Councillor Anthony Hunt (Torfaen), Welsh Local Government Association spokesperson for Finance said,
“People in communities across Wales depend daily on essential local services. For many, they are a lifeline which enhance and change lives. But austerity has affected on all communities, and councils’ ability to deliver these services is now at breaking point due to a decade of punishing cuts which have seen budgets reduce significantly.
“Despite repeated cuts from the UK Government, the Welsh Government has worked with Local Government in Wales to avert the worst excesses of austerity seen over the border in England. But things have not been easy and vital local services are reaching breaking point.
“Although the situation remains challenging, there is now an opportunity for Welsh Government to deliver on promises made to invest in public services, and for local and Welsh Government to work together to deliver for our communities.”
UNISON says it is only thanks to the dedication of council workers going beyond the call that our local services are functioning at all.
Notes for editors
UNISON’s Funding Councils in Wales seminar , is in the Park Inn Hotel, Mary Ann Street, Cardiff CF10 2JH; 9.30am-3pm on Friday 25 October 2019
Julie James AM, Minister for Housing and Local Government, has provided a statement to UNISON which will be read out at the seminar and will be available to journalists on request. Speakers include Cllr Jane Gebbie (Bridgend CBC) and vice Chairperson UNISON’s Local Government Service Group Executive; WLGA speaker: Cllr Chris Weaver, Finance Cabinet member City & County of Cardiff Council; Andy Mudd APSE and Pete Challis, UNISON
Councillors from Bridgend; Cardiff; Flintshire; Neath Port Talbot; Powys; Swansea; Torfaen, Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham are registered to attend the event, along with the Accountant of Revenues and Head of Internal Auditors, at Blaenau Gwent Council
According to the ONS Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey 28,100 council jobs were lost between Q1 2010 and Q1 2018
In 2010/11 gross revenue (day-to-day) spending by local councils in Wales was £7.64bn. By 2017/18 that figure had increased to just over £8bn but if it had kept pace with inflation it would have been £9.02bn using Consumer Price Index (CPI) and £9.59bn using Retail Price Index (RPI)
In 2011, the population in Wales was 3.06m. By 2016, this had risen to 3.113m and it is projected to rise to 3.173m by 2021
Alastair Gittins, UNISON Press Officer on 07816 538397