News

‘No Brexit dividend’ for Anglesey as island’s authority faces making cuts

29 Sep 2021 4 minutes Read
Holyhead Harbour. Picture by Darren Glanville (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Gareth Wyn Williams, local democracy reporter

A councillor has claimed “there is no Brexit dividend” as the public purse struggles to recover from the double whammy of the pandemic and leaving the EU single market.

Anglesey voted by 50.9% for Brexit but the island’s councillors have been warned that the vote could result in choppy waters ahead including cuts to public services.

Today Executive members considered its long term financial plan in light of unprecedented government borrowing over the course of the pandemic.

Despite Welsh councils being awarded a relatively generous settlement in 2021/22 to help tackle the pandemic, island decision-makers were told that the long term picture for local government is less certain.

With the council report stating that the UK Government has borrowed £298bn during 2020/21 (representing 14.2% of GDP), the figure represents the biggest amount borrowed in any year since World War II.

But with overall borrowing now exceeding £2.2 trillion, it also noted “the recovery has been slowed due to staffing shortages as a result of Brexit and the need for people to self-isolate.”

It led to a suggestion by Cllr Carwyn Jones, the island’s economic development portfolio holder, that the UK Government “would have to cut quite significantly” to balance the books.

He also cast doubt over the benefits of leaving the EU despite the island narrowly voting to leave in the 2016 Referendum, after the UK cut its ties with the EU earlier this year.

This was despite claims from the environment secretary, George Eustice, that the current HGV driver shortage was not associated with Brexit but rather a consequence of the pandemic.

“We know that furlough has cost a lot but it also looks like the promises made about Brexit won’t be realised, there is no apparent Brexit dividend and it won’t be the land of milk and honey,” said Cllr Jones, the Plaid Cymru member for Seiriol.

“It’s starting to cost now, we know of the issues with gas and Co2 and now labour shortages… these black swan events seem to be coming like buses now and there’s so much uncertainty going forward.”

‘Long term view’

Despite concurrent council tax rises to meet years of dwindling Welsh Government grants  – which makes up the bulk of a council’s income – cuts of £24.6m have been implemented by Anglesey Council since 2013/14.

This was achieved mainly thanks to efficiency savings, reducing staffing levels, outsourcing services, stopping some non-statutory services and increasing fees and charges above inflation.

But 151 officer Marc Jones’ report stated that the time for difficult decisions may not be over, although more detail would be likely when the Chancellor holds his October spending review.

“Once the impact of the pandemic has reduced and the issues surrounding Brexit are resolved, the Government will be in a better position to take a long term view on the state of the economy and how the level of borrowing can be reduced,” he wrote.

“This may be through generating more income through taxation, but it is likely that cuts in public expenditure will be part of the strategy.”

‘Blindfold’

Any reduction in the funding that Wales receives from London via the Barnett formula would be a decision for the Senedd on how much is passed on to Welsh Councils.

But with the UK Government already deciding to increase the national insurance contributions of both employees and employers by 1.25% to fund social care, Mr Jones added that the move would automatically increase the council’s annual staffing costs by £685,000.

He also warned that the move will likely to put pressure on the authority to allow pay increases as unions seek to make up for any income lost to tax, with teaching and schools staff already facing their own pay rises.

With officers also anticipating spikes in demand in both children’s and adults social services as the recovery process continues, members were told there was no room for complacency despite the current levels of reserves (£11.593m) being well above the recommended minimum of £9m.

Any budget and council tax decision for 2022/23 will lbe one for the new year, however, with the Welsh Government’s provisional settlement not likely until late December and the final version not until early March 2022.

This led the finance portfolio holder, Cllr Robin Williams,  to compare the situation to “running a four lap race but having to run the first three with a blindfold on.”

The medium term financial plan was unanimously approved by members.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
12 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
John Davis
John Davis
22 days ago

BENEFITS OF BREXIT SO FAR: Blue/black passports. Imperial measures. COST OF BREXIT SO FAR: Roaming charges.  Food shortages due to loss of EU staff. Higher gas prices outside the EU internal gas market. £800 million a week loss to businesses.  Fishermen unable to export to EU.  Farmers future in doubt due to loss of EU workers and tariff protections. Food standards dropped as qualified vets no longer needed to inspect abattoir meat. Valuable food exports at risk as loss of EU vets means they cannot be signed off for export. Unpicked farming produce rotting in the fields due to lack… Read more »

R W
R W
22 days ago
Reply to  John Davis

Apart from that, everything’s perfect!!

M e
M e
22 days ago
Reply to  John Davis

I think you have “Imperial measures” in the wrong table.

M e
M e
22 days ago
Reply to  John Davis

Passports are now made in France, so I don’t think that is a win either.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
22 days ago

Lets make sure we take back control of Ynys Mon at the next election…bye bye Virginia.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
22 days ago

To paraphrase Tory WO Minister Davies Davies, MP for Monmouth, who said in an interview to BBC Wales in 2016, and I quote:

“Wales will get more money when we leave the European Union.”

And with this sobering news, reality now dawn’s to those voters in Ynys Mon and the 52.5% in Wales who voted for Brexit on the premise “to make England great again” will not get any Brexit dividend but take on its debt and damage Wales in the process. Thank you. #Twp

hdavies15
hdavies15
22 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Ynys Mon excluded from “levelling up” because it’s offshore ? Boris has a plan so they say, I say he hasn’t got a clue.

Grayham Jones
22 days ago

Stop all incomers voting in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 stop being little Englanders and be proud to be welsh it’s time for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Lloyd
Lloyd
22 days ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

If you live in Cymru your a part of Cymru, what you saying don’t make sense!!

Gareth
Gareth
22 days ago

Any sign of the thousands of Irish people who were, according to the local Brexit voters , going to rush to Holyhead to get duty free goods, and make the place thrive post Brexit. ?

j humphrys
j humphrys
22 days ago

Are they really going to bring back “pounds shillings and pence, Tories have no sense”?
So real reason for no fuel is they are planning to bring back the horse.

Quornby
Quornby
20 days ago

There is no Brexit dividend for anyone……. the shops are like war time rationing establishments….. Half empty. What is the moron in Downing Street doing??? Call in army drivers you idiot!

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.