POWYS County Council is set to receive a cut of 0.4 per-cent to its budget which equates to around £700,000 after the Welsh Government announced its final budget proposals on Wednesday.
The news is being greeted with muted approval at County Hall in Llandrindod Wells after they were prepared for a much worse cut of 1.4 per-cent or about £1.7 million.
Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services, Alun Davies, set out the funding proposals for all 22 local authorities.
Alun Davies said: “This announcement provides councils with a robust basis for their financial planning for the coming financial year.
“Compared with the provisional settlement, next year’s final settlement for 2018-19 will include an additional £20 million as a result of the Welsh Government’s final budget allocations.
“Also the final settlement includes a further £7 million to support the increase to the capital limit in charging for residential care to £40,000 starting in April 2018.
“The changes mean the final settlement represents a slight cash increase overall, equivalent to an increase of 0.2 per cent after adjusting for transfers.”
The settlement also provides an extra £1.3 million of funding to local authorities, for them to use their discretionary powers to provide targeted relief to support local businesses which would benefit most from additional assistance.
“The additional funding means that I am also able to revise the floor arrangements set out in the provisional announcement such that no authority now faces a reduction of more than 0.5 per cent compared with the current year, on a like for like basis.
The Final Budget announcement also included a further £20 million for local government in 2019-20.
Mr Davies, added: “This is a realistic settlement that continues to protect local government from significant cuts against a backdrop of reducing budgets from the UK Government.
“While the hypothecated settlement is the largest single source of funding available to authorities, it is not the only one.
“In setting their budgets and council tax levels for next year, I expect every authority to take account of all the available funding streams and to consider how to secure best value for Welsh taxpayers through effective and efficient service provision.
“We offer considerable flexibility to authorities to exercise autonomy and responsibility in managing their finances.”
Out of the 22 local authorities, the allocation puts Powys Council at the bottom end, languishing in 19th place with only Conwy, Blaenau Gwent and Monmouthshire County Council coming lower in the pecking order.”
A spokesman for Powys County Council said the authority has welcomed news that its funding will not be reduced by as much as anticipated in the coming financial year.
The spokesman, said: “The county council was facing a one per cent cut in its funding – approximately £1.74 million – for 2018/19 when the Welsh Government announced the provisional spending settlement for 2018/19 in October.
“But, this week local government was given additional funding and Powys’ reduction was reduced to 0.4 per cent.
“The confirmed budget is a slight improvement for the county and will see Powys receive more than £1 million in revenue funding that it was anticipating.
“The increase does not mean we will have an easy time setting the budget and the level of council tax in the coming months but it is a positive move and we are grateful to the Welsh Government for the recognition that providing services in a large rural county is expensive.
“The cabinet has been working on the funding priorities for some time and the government’s confirmed budget position will make that task a little easier.
“But, there is no doubt we still face significant challenges in the future and will have to take a transformational approach to service delivery to live within resources.”