SAVAGE council budget cuts for next year could be 50 per cent worse than feared and will lead to “serious implications” for council jobs and public services.
Flintshire Council was already braced to find £12 million more savings for the 2015-16 financial year.
But that sum could now rise to as much as £18 million for the 12 months from next April, according to the council leader.
While neighbouring Wrexham Council has announced a raft of public service cuts, including leisure centre closures, grass cutting reductions and outsourcing of libraries and comunity centre funding, Flintshire Council have thus far tried to cut costs largely from within.
But top councillors warned the bleak news regarding funding from the Welsh Government meant future public service cuts would be “inevitable”.
The potential situation – which comes from Welsh Government funding settlement figures – has been described as “beyond the worst case scenario” and “the final nail in the coffin of local government”.
Welsh Government indications show reductions to the Revenue Support Grant (RSG) budgets handed out to councils in the principality could be as much as 4.5 per cent – 3 per cent more than those previously projected.
The potential new figure could spell the end of some services, which Flintshire Council has so far managed to retain in the face of the £50m savings it is vying to make from this financial year through to 2019.
Cllr Aaron Shotton, leader of Flintshire Council, said: “If the reduction in RSG is as extreme as 4.5 per cent this would create a scenario for Flintshire and all Welsh councils that would go beyond the worst case scenario that we have been planning around as the difference between 1.5 per cent and 4.5 per cent in Flintshire is £6m.
“The potential impact is unthinkable. There are serious implications for services and jobs provided by Flintshire Council.
“Such a reduction would be a major challenge for this council which, thus far has done its utmost to protect frontline services by making efficiencies in the way it operates.”
Flintshire Council has already cut senior management positions by almost half in an effort to make as many internal savings as possible in the current financial year.
That move alone will save £2.5m along with £10m of so called ‘value for money’ internal efficiencies.
So far moves like the hugely unpopular closure of Plas Madoc Leisure Centre in Acrefair by Wrexham Council have been largely avoided.
Flintshire Council deputy leader Cllr Bernie Attridge said: “We have done our best to protect non-statutory services.
“However, it is now inevitable that some will be lost, although we will consult with constituents before decisions are made.
“It remains to be seen how sustainable councils will be in the face of such massive cuts and this could be the final nail in the coffin of local government.”
Cllr Shotton remains hopeful the reduction in central funding may not be as harsh as feared.
“The minister has issued a letter to all Welsh councils which forewarns of the likely position but does not give the precise detail of the settlement,” he said.
“We take it there is still scope for discussion between authorities and the Welsh Government.”