Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Anglesey loses out in Council budget calculations

The Welsh Assembly Government yesterday announced the amount of funding it will award each local authority for 2011-2012. Anglesey County Council will see its budget reduced from £94.9 million this year to £93.3 million next year -- a reduction of £1.6 million and equivalent to -1.7 percent. The Welsh average is a reduction of just -1.4 percent meaning that Anglesey is among the 14 councils receiving the highest levels of cuts. You can see the settlements for all Welsh Local Authorities below (and more info here):

The amounts to be spent on Social Services and Education will be earmarked within each Local Authority's budget. As these two department's account for the lion's share of the total budget, by protecting them other departments will receive higher levels of cuts. It is unclear yet what implications this will have on next year's council tax -- which was already supposed to rising by up to 5 percent.

I am not surprised to see Ynys Môn once again receive one of the worst settlements from the Welsh Assembly. Last year, compared to an average Welsh rise of 2.1 percent, Anglesey County Council's allocation was increased by just 1 percent -- the joint lowest in Wales -- and we would have received even less had the Council not been able to negotiate a 'floor'. As the allocations are calculated mainly by population and not by need, Anglesey tends to lose out despite being officially the poorest place in the UK. Furthermore Anglesey is being hit by a double demographic whammy because we have a large and growing population of elderly people, who require far more care and resources, coupled with a net outward migration of younger people. In fact by 2031, the number of over 75s in Ynys Môn is expected to almost double whilst those between 25-59 years will decrease by 14 percent -- this will place a significant burden on Anglesey County Council's social services budget unless the Welsh Assembly addresses the way these grants are allocated.


TGC said...

All-too predictable.

I wonder how, if not on population but on need, one might actually assess need properly? Would it lead to Council's engineering 'neediness'?

As for the population getting older, one can only imagine how that's going to be handled in the end; a huge mountain of problems is building up whilst politicians stick their heads in the sand (of south Wales).

Brawd o Amlwch said...

Predictable indeed !
To support essential local services we are facing a swingeing increase in our Council tax next year.
What does our self-important pin-striped Finance portfolio holder with the briefcase have to say ?
Has he seen to it that the rises are limited ? No he has not.
What services may/can lawfully be cut ?
There are too many elderly fatcat officers in IACC who should be retired, to save costs ?
The smallholdings estate should be sold to raise revenue ?
Surplus land and property similarly ?
IACC have a huge asset bank....realise it to finance services ?

The Red Flag said...

The demographics is certainly a ticking bomb that affects the island disproportionately because of the amount of people who retire to here. (you could use the same argument about the Costa Geriatrica from Llandudno to Prestatyn but they don't have the employment problems Anglesey has because of their 'nearness' to Chester & Deeside and their almost industrial-scale holiday industry.) And for the shortage of young, one only has to look at the school closures through lack of pupil numbers.

I read somewhere (and I'm busily trying to find it) that already on the Island over 40% of the [population is aged 55 or over - clearly not a healthy position to be in demographics-wise.

On the plus side, the period I was living in Greater Manchester my Council Tax for a 1 bed flat 10 years ago was more (even with the single occupancy rebate) than for my 2-bed house here is now. And my car insurance is half.

So may be it's a case of catching-up.

Anonymous said...

BoA 12.03 has a valid point.
There are several highly paid senior officers at IACC who are past their sell-by dates...whose departure would not be noticed...the planning department is top-heavy and overstaffed for one....we can foresee a saving of say £150Kpa + there ?

the outsider said...

Red Flag - I think the most up to date info is on the Council's Planning portal this is the 2001 census for the island.

Anonymous said...

The irony of a Welsh Conservative calling for a needs based formula when his own party refuses to reform Barnett is not lost on most.

Can Paul confirm whether he has made clear of the need for a needs based formula and write to his Tory colleagues immediately?

Paul Williams said...

Anon 13:44 - It is no secret that the Welsh Conservatives already recognise there is a need to replace the Barnett formula with a needs-based system, as Wales is suffering under the present arrangement.

Furthermore on p28 of the Coalition programme you will find this: "We recognise the concerns expressed by the Holtham Commission on the system of devolution funding. However, at this time, the priority must be to reduce the deficit and therefore any change to the system must await the stabilisation of the public finances."

Labour had 13 years in which to change the system but did not act.

Anonymous said...

Whatever Labour have done, your party can do something about this today. Why have they not?

Why have you not been banging on your colleagues door asking why?

'Recognising a problem' is a classic political cop out. Now you have stopped the lies, you are now a party person who has to be accountable. Forget recognising something, get on with it!

I notice you neglect to mention that the Tory Government in England has cut 7.2% to English councils. Thank god Anglesey is not in England then!

dewi said...

But aren't the WAG asking (under Holtham) for a needs based system rather than Barnett? can't they practice what they preach.

On the whole had Anglesey been offered 1.7 they definitely would have taken it. However compared to a RISE in Cardiff it's scandalous- why can this happen?

Ignoring the Cardiff rise, the average is 1.6%cut, thus on the whole I think Anglesey have got an ok deal- however as they haven't had a big increase previously it's unfair.

Paul Williams said...

Anon 14:44 - You can absolutely have my commitment to supporting and pushing for a change to a more needs-based formula.

Anonymous said...

Richard Sletzer said...

Anonymous: Oh dear - the blog you linked to seems like just a pale socialist shadow of The Druid's blog.

Not only that, but it betrays a certain attitude of mind

There is still an entrenched out-dated and misguided section of Welsh society which seems to believe that being a Conservative - with a large or a small "c" - is a hanging offence. They cannot see beyond their prejudices.

These people are a bit like Gwynfor Evans, Saunders Lewis Keir Hardie et al, - i.e. not really Welsh at all. They probably inherited their prejudices and their silly left-wing politics from their parents and forebears who migrated into the South Wales valleys during the mining boom of the 19th century. It was the festering politics of the pits that bred the seeds of the socialism that's done so much damage to Wales.

The facts of the matter is that real Welshmen ARE conservatives. When our nation was Methodist and non-conformist it encouraged entrepreneurs and the growth of businesses. This breed of original Welsh Methodist conservatives exported their religious and capitalist ethics to the USA, built and manned Welsh ships and set up huge and successful businesses in Wales itself, London, Liverpool and Manchester.

It is surely high time for Wales to cut itself free from this alien creed of imported socialism which has been a cancer in our country for far too long.

;) said...

Anon 9.40:

"These people are a bit like Gwynfor Evans, Saunders Lewis Keir Hardie et al, - i.e. not really Welsh at all".

I think you'll find that this blogger (Laudanum) is based in Primrose Hill. (Blogger info page)

The Red Flag said...

With reference to what anon 24 Nov 14.44 wrote above about English councils being subject to a 7.2% cut in funding, the below article shows the impact something on that scale has. In this case the ending of free parking for the disabled amongst other things.

Jac o' the North said...

The fact that Cardiff is the only Welsh council to receive an increase says all one needs to know about how modern Wales is run as the Cardiff city state.

Anonymous said...

It's generally agreed that what will help business in Anglesey is high speed internet connection.
Strange then to see a Mr Humphreys from Holyhead making a fool of himself in yesterdays D Post letters page by trying to score some sort of a political point by rubbishing the Druids use of the internet.
I sincerily hope that this Mr Humphreys with his dinosaur attitude is not in a position to make decisions about the future of Anglesy

Jeff Jones said...

I enjoy reading your blog but you are wrong to imply that the local government settlement formula is based on population. Although population does play a part ( hence the small increase for cardiff which has lost ourt in th epast because the population figures were incorrecct) but it is a bit more complicated than that. Again this year Ynys Mon has been helped by the decision to establish a floor of -1.7% below which auhtorities cannot fall. The losers in this are not Ynys Mon but authorities such as my own former authority Bridgend which would have received a better settlement without the floor. No Tory should support a floor because it distorts the seetlement. In fact Ynys Mon is lucky to be given a floor given the anger of many authorities when Ynys Mon used the floor in previous years to set a lower council tax increase than those who had lost money through the floor mechanism. Like all local authorities in Wales, Ynys Mon should be glad that WAG did not follow the Tory argument and ring fence health.Partly as a result of the decision to ring fence the NHS in England local government has been hammered. You might moan about the -1.7% but how would Ynys Mon cope with Liverpool's 12.3% decrease or Bolsover's 22.6%. The simple fact is that Ynys Mon is too small to function efficiently as a unitary auhtority. But whose fault is that ? Who reorganised local government in the 1990s without any thought for service provision or the level of local taxes? Answers on a blue postcard.

Jac o' the North said...

For once I find myself in agreement with Jeff Jones. Twenty-two local authorities in a country the size of Wales is absurd. And getting more absurd by the day.

Back in the early '90s, when local government reorganisation was last being discussed, it was agreed to set a minumum population level of 60,000, which ruled Merthyr Tydfil in and Montgomeryshire out. Since then Montgomeryshire has gone over the set figure while Merthyr's population is now 55,000 and still falling. Does the same apply to Ynys Mon?

The set figure was clearly too low. A pity because all involved had the opportunity to do a once-and-for-all job at minimum expense by converting the eight pre-existing counties into unitary authorities.

As things stand, we are told that it would be too expensive to reorganise local government now, and yet it's proving very, very expensive to maintain 22 local government hierachies, staff, councillors and all the other duplication.

This subject has to be re-visited sooner or later. Let us make sure that when it is we create (or revive) units big enough to provide the required services and few enough in number to avoid excesive duplication, so that we don't have to reorganise every 20 years as we have in recent decades.

Paul Williams said...

Jac - Ynys Môn's population is around the 70K mark but is growing slowly (despite the demographic changes I mentioned in the main post). Regarding the finances of supporting 22 local authorities, I suspect that there will be far more 'sharing of resources' between councils from now, particularly of senior staff.

Jeff - You are right that it is not calculated purely by population, but as you yourself say that is a major factor as evidenced by the Cardiff result. Noting your argument, I stand by my original belief that we have a demographic and economic situation in Ynys Môn which deserves closer attention when it comes to setting the settlement. As for the point regarding whether to protect health spending or not, I only note that 39% of North Wales respondents to the latest ITV Wales / YouGov poll were in favour of protecting NHS spending, compared to 36% who thought the NHS should be cut in order to protect other departments from bigger cuts.

Mam mon said...

Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?"

Dr Albert A Bartlett

;) said...

The reduction in Anglesey's funding award by £1.6M isn't that far off David bowles salary, (once Solace's fee, expenses, (and pension contributions?) are taken into account.

Solutions for cuts on a post(card) please.

Welsh Ramblings said...

Druid- the "Welsh Assembly" includes your party and is not responsible for this settlement.

The Welsh Government decided the settlement.

See, I want you to be right even when it is to your advantage.

You would be educating your own readers if you used these correct terms. I do not blame you for a second, because the confusing term "Welsh Assembly Government" was a Labour hash up.

Prometheuswrites said...

Welsh Rambling:

You make a good point. I'm often confused (as I am now) as to what the difference between the Assembly and the Government is - can you explain it in an easy to understand way?

Welsh Ramblings said...

I will try, but again I don't blame anyone for not understanding it because it's such a half-baked set of terms.

The Welsh Government (called the 'Welsh Assembly Government' officially)- the executive arm headed by the First Minister which spends money, makes laws, and has responsibility for the devolved policy areas. Currently made up of Labour and Plaid Cymru. The Welsh Government employs the civil servants in the departments headed by each Welsh Minister (Economy and Transport, Health, Education, Rural affairs etc) and has buildings throughout Wales. The Welsh Government isn't based at the Assembly, it goes there to be scrutinised by AMs of all parties. The Welsh Government's main base is at Cathays Park in Cardiff, but also at its buildings in Llandudno, Aberystwyth, Merthyr Tydfil etc.

The National Assembly (some people call it the "Welsh Assembly")- is the parliament of 60 AMs which is responsible for scrutinising the actions of the Welsh Government and holding it to account. Holds plenary sessions and committees and is headed by the Presiding Officer similar to the Speaker at Westminster. The National Assembly employs the staff who run the Senedd building, IT services, security, catering, research staff and AM support staff through a kind of committee called the Assembly Commission which has a representative from each party on it. The National Assembly features Labour, Plaid, Tories, Lib Dems and 1 independent.

The Senedd- this is the building where the Assembly meets in Cardiff Bay.

In the National Assembly there is a Welsh Government (Labour/Plaid) and an Opposition (Tories/Lib Dems).

Prometheuswrites said...

Welsh Ramblings:

Thank you again for that explanation.

One point of clarification; it sounds from your description that the civil servants are employed by the ministers.

In Westminster the civil servants are employed by the civil service, (or so I believe).

Does the Welsh Assembly Government have civil servants employed on a permanent basis, or do they change when/if a new executive body comes in?

Paul Williams said...

Ramblings - you are quite right and although I know the distinction between the Assembly and WAG I should be more precise when using these terms. I thank you.

The Red Flag said...
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The Red Flag said...
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