FLINTSHIRE Council's leader spoke of his frustration over the authority always being 'at the bottom' when it comes to funding.

A report to the cabinet, which met on Tuesday morning (January 16), set out how on December 20, The Welsh Local Government Provisional Settlement was announced.

At that point, the council reported an 'additional budget requirement' of £33.187m - but the authority also identified funding solutions of £22.097m, leaving a remaining amount, or 'gap', of £11.090m.

But the funding solutions assumed there would be an uplift of £7.285m from the Welsh Government.

In reality, this turned out to be just £5.560m.

This came as a big disappointment to the council - which as a result now faces a 'budget gap' of some £12.946m.

Cllr Paul Johnson, cabinet member for finance, inclusion, resilient communities including social value and procurement, told the meeting: "The Provisional settlement for Flintshire is extremely disappointing.

"It represents an increasingly difficult challenge to an already difficult financial position we find ourselves in once again.

"And that's no fault of the county council. We're doing all we should be.

"Detailed final budget proposals are now being prepared for member consideration and scrutiny."

He invited the cabinet to follow the recommendation in the report - to note the financial implications and the remaining work which needs to be completed prior to agreeing a set of recommendations for council to set a legal and balanced budget on February 20.

Flintshire Council's chief executive Neal Cockerton said: "It clearly is a disappointing settlement - we're 20th out of 22 [local authorities].

"A number of the North Wales local authorities are in the bottom quartile.

"We have had to revisit a number of our planning assumptions and will be bringing more information back to members in preparation for the final meeting of the council in relation to the budget."

Cllr Ian Roberts, leader of the council, said: "I am fed up of looking at the bottom of league tables - very fed up.

"It seems Flintshire is always at the bottom and that view has been and will be transmitted to the Welsh Government.

"We're always lower than average [for funding] - but our services, in my opinion, are not lower than average.

"We perform very well across a range of services; education social services highways maintenance."

Cllr Roberts said he, along with Cllr Mared Eastwood - cabinet member for education, Welsh language, culture and leisure - and chief officer for education, Claire Homard, met on Monday with head teachers and chair of governors to set out the council's financial position and discuss how it would impact on schools.

Cllr Roberts added: "I have to say the meeting went fairly well.

"Head teachers were... 'resigned' is probably the word.

"The proposed schools budget will have to go through the democratic process."

Cllr Eastwood said: "The context in which the council finds itself was explained and understood by the room.

"I think the cut was anticipated, and some said they were expecting worse.

"Though everyone was clearly disappointed with the decision that had to be made, they did understand."

As councillors voted to follow the report's recommendation, Cllr Roberts reiterated: "The letter going back to the Welsh Government in response to this will be robust."