The extra cash announced today for councils will do “very little” to ease pressure on struggling local authorities, Plaid Cymru has warned.
The Welsh Government has today announced an additional £25m for local authorities in 2024-25 to “support the social care workforce, schools and help councils respond to other pressures in their local communities”.
The extra funding is expected to form part of the Welsh Government’s Final Budget proposals, published on 27 February.
It comes after the UK Government announced on 24 January it would be increasing local government settlement by £600m in England to respond to pressures in social care.
This results in a consequential allocation of around £25m for Wales in 2024-25 as per the Barnett Formula.
Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for local government in the Senedd Peredur Owen Griffiths said that with councils facing a huge funding gap of £354m, the extra cash – while welcome, would do “very little” in easing pressures on delivery of local services.
Mr Owen Griffiths said that many councils had to contend with an uplift that was “significantly less than the average across Wales” – particularly for rural councils. Plaid Cymru had previously called for the funding to be used to increase the minimum funding floor.
The Plaid Cymru members said that it would not compensate for Wales being “consistently and substantially shortchanged year-on-year by Westminster” and repeated the party’s calls for a needs-based reform of that formula to ensure a fairer deal for Wales.
Peredur said:"Councils across Wales are facing an incredibly difficult situation, grappling with a huge funding gap of £354m for this next financial year. £25m will do very little in easing the pressures on the delivery of local services.
“While it is right that the extra cash is being used to fund local authorities, it does not compensate for the fact that Wales’ is consistently and substantially shortchanged year-on-year by Westminster.
“With the funding floor currently set at 2%, many councils are having to contend with an uplift in their budget that is significantly less than the average across Wales. This is particularly true for councils in more rural areas, which is a matter of real concern.
"That’s why Plaid Cymru believe – and called for - this funding to be used to increase that minimum funding floor at a time where councils are struggling to provide even the most vital services, and where stubbornly high energy prices and inflation in this ongoing cost of living crisis continue to cripple pay packets.
“Given the longstanding deficiencies in the Barnett funding model, Plaid Cymru will continue to make the case for a needs-based reform of that formula to ensure a fairer deal for Wales.
“The fact that this announcement was made without prior warning nor consultation in terms of the implications for devolved budgets also speaks volumes about our peripheral position within the United Kingdom, and the continual disrespect of this Conservative UK Government towards Welsh devolution.”
If you want to support Plaid Cymru and Peredur, please click this link.