UNISON Cymru Wales today (Wednesday) takes its campaign for fair funding for local government to the Senedd building. In a mass lobby, UNISON members will hand over a local petition signed by the Neath Port Talbot public to Assembly members at 1pm, and address fellow campaigners from the Senedd steps.
The petition calls on the Welsh Government to protect the funding for local government in the autumn budget as further budget cuts will devastate our communities.
The momentum generated by the creation of this petition and another still live online petition by UNISON Neath Port Talbot Branch, has forced the matter to be debated on the floor of the Welsh Assembly later this month. At least eight Assembly members have committed to meeting the UNISON group today and two Welsh MPs are also sending representatives to the event.
Mark Fisher, branch chair of UNISON Neath Port Talbot Branch said,
“The services that we all rely on cannot be cut or scaled down any further. If our public services within Wales are to survive the next five years the Welsh Government must ensure that all Local Authorities receive fair funding. We also call on the Westminster Government to scrap the Barnett formula and look at a funding formula that protects quality services and jobs in Wales.”
Dominic Macaskill, UNISON Cymru Wales head of local government said,
“People across Wales are angry that UK government austerity measures have slashed millions from the monies available to the Welsh government and this threatens the services that maintain the fabric of our communities, including assistance to the most vulnerable members of our society. Further cuts mean job losses in front line services and the transfer of council services to the private sector. UNISON and the Association of Public Service Excellence have demonstrated that providing public services with local accountability is key to thriving communities and outsourcing of services does not work.”
A second online petition is still live and UNISON is encouraging the public to sign up. Visit http://tinyurl.com/pz5359x
The presentation of a petition follows a UNISON Cymru Wales lobby of Parliament for fair funding for Wales in Westminster on 9th July 2015.
Assembly members Gwenda Thomas, David Rees, Alun Davies, Mike Hedges, Julie James, Peter Black, Bethan Jenkins and Susie Davies will be in attendance at the petition presentation. Representatives from the offices of Christina Rees MP and Stephen Kinnock MP will also be there.
The leader and deputy leader of Neath Port Talbot Council will be travelling with the UNISON group to the Senedd and UNISON will be backed by delegates from the teaching unions, UNITE, GMB and UCATT.
Threats to Neath Port Talbot budget
Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council is an authority that faces some of the highest levels of deprivation in the UK. To manage the recent £102 million budget cuts it has worked hard in a strong partnership with the trade unions to avoid compulsory redundancies and outsourcing of services. The cuts have had an effect on the services provided and the workforce. It is estimated that NPT CBC will need to make £50 million savings over the period 2015-2016 to 2017-2018.
Effect of Conservative austerity on Welsh local government
The Institute of Fiscal Studies have modelled that the cuts between 2010-11 and 2017-18 will amount to 14% of the total Welsh Government budget. The cuts to the Welsh block grant also need to be viewed within the context of the current funding formula which sees Wales get some £300millions per year less from the Treasury than if it was treated on the same basis as an English Region.
For Welsh local government the knock on effect has been cuts that have necessitated efficiency savings of over £720 million on a conservative estimate, with a cumulative budget shortfall of £941 million forecast by 2019-20 if current policies remain unchanged.
Alastair Gittins, UNISON Press Officer on 07816 538397