Page last updated at 08:00 GMT, Thursday, 11 June 2009 09:00 UK

Councils 'face millions in cuts'

Bin lorry
Council leaders warn services face cuts to cope with a drop in funding

Councils across Wales face making cuts of tens of millions of pounds over the next few years, according to the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA).

It says the cuts are needed to cope with reductions in government funding.

The warning comes as Gwynedd Council said it was considering how to save £16m over the next three years.

The Welsh Assembly Government said it wanted "all public sector bodies to deliver efficiency savings which will safeguard frontline services".

Gwynedd Council is the first local authority in Wales to put forward spending plans as a number of local authorities begin to consider cuts to their spending.

The WLGA is warning that other councils will also have to consider a comprehensive proactive savings strategy in response to the expected substantial reduction in government funding for local authorities in Wales over the next few years.

Put starkly, the council must act now or store up even more painful decisions that will in any case have to be faced during the next three years
Gwynedd council leader Dyfed Edwards

In March, the WLGA warned at least 700 local government jobs will be lost in Wales in 2009 and up to 2,000 by 2011 due to the recession.

In February, Finance Minister Andrew Davies told BBC Wales' Dragon's Eye programme that Welsh public services were facing an "unprecedented" £500m budget cut in 2010.

He warned this would have a massive knock-on effect on health, education and local government spending.

'Radical decisions'

The WLGA said not every council had worked out their final figure but Swansea had identified a need to save £15.4m by 2012-13, Powys £13m by the end of 2011-12, Carmarthenshire £11m by 2010-2012 and Anglesey £10m by 2011-12.

Chief Executive Steve Thomas said says most councils are looking at multi-million pound shortfalls and job cuts were inevitable.

He said: "There will be cuts in services. There's always scope for efficiencies, no organisation is 100% efficient, but (it is) the scale of the challenge and the problem is the length of the challenge.

"We're going to have to take some very radical decisions here. It might be in the future we have to look at a pay freeze. There's a range of options we have to look at."

Gwynedd Council said it will have already made £14m in savings over the four years to 2009-10 but that would "unfortunately not be enough to bridge the further huge funding shortfalls".

'Nightmare scenario'

Council Leader Dyfed Edwards said making savings without affecting services would be difficult.

He said: "Put starkly, the council must act now or store up even more painful decisions that will in any case have to be faced during the next three years.

"By acting now we can avoid the nightmare scenario of forced, unplanned and badly thought-through savings and service cuts further down the line."

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said: "These are challenging economic and financial times for the public sector, businesses and citizens alike.

"There are already examples of good practice in Wales where local authorities have undertaken a comprehensive review of services and have cut back on unnecessary bureaucracy which has resulted in them saving money and improving the service they deliver to the public."

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