Laura Sharman 19 April 2021

Welsh councils face £178m funding gap next year

Welsh councils face £178m funding gap next year image

Welsh local authorities will face a funding gap of £178m next year due to post-pandemic pressures, a new report has found.

Analysis by Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre warns this could rise to £607m next year if the Welsh Government decides to redirect budget resources to fund the projected legacy costs of COVID-19 on the NHS.

The report finds social services will account for 55% of all local authority spending pressures by 2025/26.

Cian Siôn, a researcher on the Wales Fiscal Analysis project, said: 'Even though the block grant is set to grow in real terms over the next five years, growing demand for services, including social care, and significant post-pandemic pressures combine to create a challenging outlook for the Welsh and local authority budgets.

'This challenge kicks in immediately with a substantial funding gap next year, based on current UK Government spending plans.'

The report also reveals that council tax now accounts for 5.4% of the total tax take in Wales, compared to 4.3% in England.

Mr Siôn added: ‘Our analysis suggests that above-inflation increases to council tax here to stay. In our model, we assume a 4.5% annual increase to council tax bills from 2022−23 to 2025−26, and even this is not sufficient to meet funding pressures in full.

’This strengthens the case for revisiting the way the local taxation system operates in Wales. A policy which pivots around inflation-busting council tax increases every year is an unsustainable way of funding local authorities in the long-term.’

Time for a council tax precept to fund CCTV image

Time for a council tax precept to fund CCTV

The crisis in funding for CCTV systems is not being addressed by the government or the police and is leading to the curtailment of this vital service in local authorities across the country. How can we ensure that communities that want this service continue to receive it, asks Tom Reeve.
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