(Title Image: Wales Online)
There was good news for Wales’ 22 local authorities with an average increase of 4.3% in their day-to-day budgets for 2020-21 (xls)– one of the largest increases to local government spending for more than a decade.
The final local government settlement is expected to be approved in March 2020 alongside the final Welsh budget for 2020-21.
“This settlement provides local government with the most stable platform I can offer for planning budgets for the forthcoming financial year. I fully appreciate the pressures local government continues to face following a decade of austerity. This good settlement responds to the pressures that local government had been anticipating and offers an opportunity to plan for the future.”
– Local Government & Housing Minister, Julie James (Lab, Swansea West)
In addition to the revenue funding, £640million will be made available for councils to spend on new capital projects. Amongst the Welsh Government’s top priorities there is the expansion of council housing, with additional capital funding also being made available for active travel, Welsh-medium education and the Welsh Government’s free childcare scheme.
The Minister said she did consider setting a funding floor for councils, but as every council saw at least a 3% increase in their budgets for 2020-21 (as things stand), those plans were dropped.
It’s also likely that proposed inflation-busting increases to council tax will be pared-back this year – though there’s no guarantee of these sorts of levels of funding in future years.