UNISON Cymru/Wales, the largest public sector trade union in Wales, is today launching a report which investigates the impact of austerity on local government in Wales. The report is being launched at the WLGA conference taking place in Cardiff.
The report has been drafted in response to the ongoing financial pressure on local government services, resulting from the austerity policies being driven from Westminster.
UNISON continues to campaign for fair funding for Wales. In addition, UNISON is now calling on the Welsh Government to implement a number of measures to assist in protecting local public services. Full details of the proposals are contained within the report.
Dominic MacAskill, UNISON Cymru/Wales head of local government, said:
“UNISON issued warnings over five years ago about the impact long-term austerity would have on services in Wales.
“We warned that there would be a significant impact on the local government workforce and that we stood to lose 25,000 local government jobs. It is extremely disappointing to us that our forecasts have been realised and that there are now almost 24,000 fewer people employed by councils in Wales than in 2010.
“And to add insult to injury, many local authorities in Wales are still employing external consultants to deal with mounting financial pressures and at significant cost to the public purse. It is these consultants who receive a direct percentage of the cost savings they identify, and so are driven to identify cuts for profitable gain rather than by quality of service.
“Public services are there to promote the health of communities, to support the vulnerable in our society, and to help build a brighter future and so UNISON is clear the notion of profit making is incompatible with a public service ethos.
“With this in mind, we are alarmed that PricewaterhouseCoopers, a private consultancy recently exposed as profiting greatly at the expense of local services in Wales, is sponsoring this WLGA conference today.
“Our only hope now is that those key decision makers who are here at this conference take note of UNISON’s Audit of Austerity Report above any further recommendations made by PwC.”
Sarah Taylor, UNISON Cymru/Wales local government chair and Flintshire County branch secretary, said:
“The impact of ongoing financial restraint in local government will be felt for generations to come and I fear that the face of local government services has changed forever.
“Local government workers are working hard to deliver the services that help sustain healthy communities, but both the services and local government workers are at breaking point.
“Local government services can’t be sustained without more funding and this report identifies a number of options available to the Welsh Government to help address this challenge.”