When will the cuts bite? Wrexham Council leader wants a decision

Reporter:

Matt Sims

WREXHAM Council’s leader has urged Welsh Assembly Government leaders to decide immediately just when deep public spending cuts will start to bite.

Aled Roberts says a decision on whether savings totalling £162 million across the public sector in Wales would be made this year or next is of huge importance.

But after returning from a Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) meeting, he said local authorities were still none the wiser about when the cuts will happen.

Cllr Roberts said: “We are planning on the basis of the cuts we have known about for nine months.

“There is a need for an early decision about whether Wales is going to start implementing the cuts in the same way as England.

“The big issue is when and where this is going to happen. There’s £162 million that’s going to be cut.

“It’s no good the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) deciding in October or November.

“The decision needs to be taken now – it’s either now or next year.”

After attending the WLGA conference in Llandudno on Thursday, Cllr Roberts said it was still not clear whether there was a timescale for the savings to begin.

Both local government minister Carl Sargeant, AM for neighbouring Alyn and Deeside, and business minister Jane Hutt spoke at the event, with Mr Sargeant calling on local authorities to replace senior officers who leave via joint appointments with neighbouring councils.

But Cllr Roberts said: “There was general frustration regarding the lack of clarity.

“I think it’s a bit simplistic to suggest you get it by savings on the officer posts and collaboration.”

Cllr Roberts has also said it was not just local authority cuts that needed to be addressed, but also those within other public sector organisations such as the Welsh NHS and the Assembly itself.

He said: “It’s quite clear there are decisions not being taken such as management costs in the NHS, because the management structure remains in place.

“While we are quite willing to assume responsibility for our share, we are not prepared to become more of a victim than others.

“The Welsh Assembly appears to be saying there will be redundancies in the local government sector, so why no redundancies in the NHS?

“If there are cuts throughout the public sector, each element of the public sector has to bear its own responsibility.

“Our viewpoint as people involved in local government is we have seen the Welsh Assembly growing and it is time other elements of the public sector saw cuts.

“I think we need a clear understanding of the financial cutbacks we will have to bear and it is unfair if that is disproportionate.”

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