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The Deepening Crisis 'Has Just Got Worse'

Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, Councillor Rob Jones.

The fight to safeguard children's education, social care for the most vulnerable and keeping basic services running has just got much worse according to Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, Councillor Rob Jones.

In Local Government Secretary Alun Davies AM's Government Finance Statement it was announced Welsh councils' core funding for 2019/20 will be down 0.3% from the previous financial year.

Neath Port Talbot Council is facing a funding gap of £64m between now and 2023.

Cllr Jones said: "Year after year we have failed to get the funding we need and now it means the possibility of compulsory redundancies, continuing to struggle in maintaining social care and having increasing difficulty in paying for our children's schooling."

 "We are already at breaking point when it comes like paying for basic services like education and social care, maintaining roads and collecting waste - but this settlement means it's going to get much worse and that's unacceptable.

"We are simply not getting the funding we need to keep these and dozens of other vital services going. We are fighting on the side of local people to educate their children, look after the disabled and the vulnerable, undertake food inspections, cut grass and find grants to help local businesses".

"And don't be fooled by the grant money, either it is inadequate and comes with strings attached or it replaces cuts made last year with no increase."

Public services are now "on the brink of collapse"

At a Unison-organised Q&A session at the council's Civic Centre in Port Talbot last month involving council staff and local politicians, councillors called for an end to the cuts.

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) backed by a number of Council leaders across Wales including Cllr Jones has now written a letter to the Welsh Government asking it to reconsider the settlement.

The WLGA said: "At the most optimistic level, this amounts to a £57m gap which equates to a loss of 1,300 teachers or 2,400 teaching assistants or a combination of both. 

"Yet again, the exhausted narrative of 'additional' and 'extra' funding in Welsh Government press releases needs to be treated with scepticism. Tuesday's settlement simply does not provide enough resources to fund local services, particularly when compared to areas which the Welsh Government directly control, like the NHS."  

The WLGA added councils' funding from Welsh ministers has fallen by 22% since 2009-10, after adjusting for inflation, and the workforce has shrunk by around 15% over the same period.

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