MONMOUTHSHIRE council could make a stand against ‘harmful cuts’ to local services proposed by the Welsh Government next year.
The authority would be one of only five in Wales to be hit with a maximum cut of one per cent – £936,000 – in the 2019/2020 financial year.
The draft settlement stems from the ‘bread and butter budget’ announced by Welsh finance secretary Mark Drakeford earlier this month.
It comes after the UK Government announced in June that the Welsh Government would receive £1.2 billion in extra funding over five years.
Conservative councillor Phil Murphy has raised concerns about the impact of the cutbacks and will table a motion at a meeting on Thursday.
The motion from the cabinet member for resources reads: “This council regrets the decision of the Welsh Government to cut local government by an average 3.2 per cent in real terms.
“This council further regrets that Monmouthshire has yet again received the deepest cut of any local authority in Wales, losing £962,000 and expresses concern about the impact Welsh Government cuts could have on education, social care and other essential services for the people of Monmouthshire.
“This council calls on the Welsh Government to urgently reconsider its priorities to avoid harmful cuts to local services.”
Councillor Dimitri Batrouni, leader of the council’s Labour group, said that Conservatives in Monmouthshire ‘weren’t listening’ to their party leader, Theresa May.
When announcing the extra funding in June, the prime minister had asked the Welsh Government to use the funding to develop their ‘long-term plans’ for NHS Wales.
Under the budget proposals, the Welsh Government plans to spend £550 million on health and social care, with £41 million set aside for new ambulances and NHS-specific improvements.
“The prime minister asked the Welsh Government to spend the extra money on the NHS and that’s what they intend to do,” said Cllr Batrouni.
“We’ve had eight years of austerity. If the Welsh Government’s budget had seen real terms growth since 2010 then their budget would have had an extra £4 billion next year.
“It’s all crocodile tears. They just don’t like the taste of their own medicine.”
But Councillor Debby Blakebrough, leader of the Independents group, says the funding formulas of both governments are wrong and claimed that all parties would ‘agree that they need reviewing’.
“It can’t be about portioning the blame – lets get together and work to get a fairer system in place,” said Cllr Blakebrough.
The chair of the council’s adults select committee also said that the Welsh Government was also failing to address the ‘next public health crises’ – isolation and loneliness.
“The only people who can deal with that are social services which are run by local government,” continued Cllr Blakebrough.
“It seems the Welsh Government is effectively buying up band aids to cover up the wound, rather than looking at the underlying problems.
“Investing more into local government and social care can support people in their own communities.”