I have always believed that the day on which central government, be it WAG or any other, announces the local government financial settlement for the forthcoming year as being one of the most important events in their calendar. The day the budget and council tax are set are other notable days.
Today Brian Gibbons AM announced the 2010-11 settlement and considering the state of the economy a settlement of 2.1% average overall (range 1.0%-3.1%) is probably as much as can be expected. Of the rural authorities Ceredigion comes out well on a 2.1% increase from last year. Its good news for Ceredigion and shows how a Plaid influenced Welsh government has worked to minimise the effect of cuts on local government. Incidentally the increase in Assembly funding from London is 2.1%.
From a political perspective in Ceredigion the announcement has undermined an electoral strategy the Lib Dems were depending on for the General Election campaign - Ceredigion is getting a bad deal from the Labour-Plaid Government in Cardiff. That's rubbish, not true and too narrowly focused on a County Council perspective (too many advisors with too many vested interests in the council camp methinks!). Our MP has been busy over the last few weeks distributing leaflets complaining about the lack of funds allocated to Ceredigion CC, well Ceredigion is no better or worse off than any other local authority with the settlement hitting the national average. Maybe he would recommend that we raid the coffers of those Lib Dems authorities in Wrexham and Cardiff who have had above average settlements of 3.1% and 3.0% respectively. As more powerful politicians I suspect that Cllrs Roberts and Berman will give him short shrift.
UPDATE press release by Elin Jones AM and Cllr Ellen ap Gwynn
Plaid Cymru’s Elin Jones AM has said that Ceredigion County Council will be receiving the same percentage increase in funding as the Assembly Government itself received from the UK Treasury.
The Assembly Government’s Minister for Social Justice and Local Government, Brian Gibbons AM, announced provisional figures this week where local authorities in Wales will see their funding for the 2010 – 2011 financial year rise by an average 2.1 per cent.
This is identical to the funding increase which the Assembly Government will be receiving from the Westminster Government next year and Ceredigion County Council itself will in turn be receiving a funding increase of 2.1 per cent as a result of this announcement.
Commenting on the proposed funding increase for Ceredigion County Council, Elin Jones AM said:
“Provisional figures released this week indicate that Ceredigion County Council will in fact be receiving the same increase in funding for the coming financial year as the Assembly Government.
“All public services are feeling the pinch at the moment as a result of the Westminster Government’s multi-billion pound bank bailout. Wales is no exception and the Assembly Government has received a lower percentage increase in funding for the coming year than expected.
The leader of the Plaid Cymru group on Ceredigion County Council, Cllr Ellen ap Gwynn, added:
“While Ceredigion County Council is likely to fare slightly better than other rural local authorities in Wales in this budget settlement, the continued squeeze on public sector finance at all government levels means that we face difficult choices over the coming months.