Column in the Barry & District News by Rt Hon Alun Cairns MP:
Fair funding for the Vale is an issue that affects us all. It impacts our day to day lives and is something that has desperately needed correcting for some time. Last week, the Welsh Government had the opportunity to do just that as they set Council budgets for 2019/20. Unfortunately, they failed to do so.
I am deeply disappointed that once again the Vale has been subject to another funding cut by the Welsh Government, when other areas have benefitted from an increase to their budget. This has a real impact on the front line services we receive from our council, such as rubbish collections, maintenance of parks and roads, school funding and other matters that we encounter in our day to day lives.
We are all aware that budgets have been tighter in recent years for local authorities across the country. This is to get the national debt under control and cut the deficit which was inherited in 2010. Councils will look to ensure that they are spending money efficiently and effectively to get the most out of front line services. However, the system needs to be fair and at present the Vale is getting a bad deal from Welsh Government.
In my role as Secretary of State, I have secured the most generous settlement for Wales since devolution. For every £100 spent per head in England, Wales receives £120. On top of that, earlier this year the Welsh Government received an extra £1.2bn increase to its budget as a result of NHS spending in England. There is no excuse for the Welsh Government to continue to underfund the Vale. Sadly, in the latest settlement we were dealt a 0.7% cut, whereas Cardiff benefitted from a 0.4% increase.
It is not only in the overall budget to local authorities where the Vale loses out. We are also one of the worst off in Welsh Government funding to schools. This means that funding for schools has to be sourced from other areas and with our overall budget being cut, it is inevitable that frontline services are squeezed further than necessary.
It’s time for the Welsh Government to stop pointing the finger and get on with finding a fair settlement for the Vale of Glamorgan.