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Council leader warns of “worrying” times ahead

28 May 2024 3 minute read
A View Of Neath Port Talbot. Credit: Neath Port Talbot Council

Lewis Smith Local Democracy Reporter

A Welsh council leader has warned of “very worrying” times ahead this month  if there is a decrease in funding for local councils.

The leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, Cllr Steve Hunt said he would continue campaigning for increased funding for local authorities across Wales, after what had been two challenging years with budget pressures.

The long-term member who represents Crynant, Onllwyn and Seven Sisters spoke at Neath Port Talbot’s annual general meeting in May, where he was re-elected as leader alongside deputy Councillor Alun Llewelyn for a third year.

“Challenging”

He said: “After two extremely challenging budgets, my focus this year will be on maintaining a stable council and preparing for an even more difficult budget position from 2025-26.

“Over the last two financial years we’ve faced new costs of £70m but received just £27m in additional funding via the Welsh Government’s Revenue Support Grant.

“The budget gap we faced required renewed focus on cost control and new income sources. I thank all the council officers and trade union partners for their support in achieving a balanced budget while still protecting jobs and
the services our residents rely on. At this time, the Welsh Government is indicating a 0% Revenue Support Grant Settlement for 2025-26 or even a
reduced grant.

“At a time when we still have the effect of inflation and unfunded pay pressures in the system, families continuing to struggle with the cost of living and very high levels of demand across services, the proposed settlement is very worrying.”

Pressure

The general meeting came just months after Neath Port Talbot Council approved its final budget for the 2024-25 financial year, which included a 7.9% increase in council tax for residents as well as £8.8 million worth of savings, caused by what were described as “unprecedented pressure on budgets and soaring demand for services”

Cllr Hunt added:  “I’ve already written jointly with trade unions to Ministers pointing out the consequences of this strategy but there will be further representations made, including through the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) over the coming months and I urge you to make representations through your own channels.

“Also, we’ll continue working on the range of economic development opportunities that are so important in bringing new, well paid jobs to our area. This of course takes on even more importance given the impact of the changes proposed at Tata Port Talbot. As we do this work, we will be particularly focusing on how local people and businesses can be helped to take advantage of the new opportunities we’re working hard to secure.”


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Adrian
Adrian
21 days ago

Considerable amounts of space occupied by NPT Council are currently empty: this is because the council has taken the autonomous decision to have many employees work from home. It’s not clear what the council’s long-term strategy is on this issue but, annoyingly, they frequently have the brass neck to use the choice to adopt WFH as an excuse for poor response times or service. I don’t see why the tax payer should be funding the cost and maintenance of unused office space, particularly when the council is complaining about its budget, and raising council tax as a result. Staff could… Read more »

Why vote
Why vote
20 days ago

So a labour council is admitted to a labour Welsh government of underfunding over the last two budget’s and the current budget. You can’t make this up.

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
20 days ago
Reply to  Why vote

NOT a labour Council…doh!

Why vote
Why vote
20 days ago
Reply to  Dai Rob

My deepest apologies to NPT council for insinuating that they had anything to do with or were controlled by the labour party I am sure they are respectable people with morals.

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