Page last updated at 13:28 GMT, Monday, 7 January 2013

Debate on the local government settlement

Assembly Members have given their support to the Welsh local government settlement for 2013/14.

During the debate on 8 January 2013 Local Government and Communities Minister Carl Sargeant argued that councils in Wales would receive a cash increase compared to last year's budgets, but that there should be no illusion that it was a challenging and difficult settlement.

He also stressed the need for councils to collaborate far more extensively in the future, in order to protect a level of core service delivery.

Mr Sargeant also made numerous references about the settlement for councils in Wales being far better than for local authorities in England.

The Minister told Assembly Members that he was prepared to use his powers to cap the level of increases in council tax, but was confident that Welsh councils would remain responsible in their decision making on how much to ask council tax payers to contribute in the next financial year.

The Welsh Conservatives raised concerns about waste in local government spending - including increases in executive pay, uncollected taxes, and unused resources.

They also raised concerns about the lack of support for older people and rural communities.

Plaid Cymru warned that people simply weren't prepared for the changes to council tax benefits in April, and warned of the danger of bailiffs being called in to repossess assets of those unable to pay their council tax contributions.

The Liberal Democrats raised concerns about how the Welsh Government's £10 million regional collaboration fund will work, as well as concerns about the prospect of higher council tax bills in April.

There was also concern from some Assembly Members about the low level of funding for rural areas such as Powys.

But Mr Sargeant defended the settlement, and rejected Conservative and Liberal Democrat criticism.

He claimed that the policies of those parties at Westminster had led to savage attacks on council budgets in England and would ultimately lead to people losing their benefits and even their homes in Wales.

Read this in Welsh.


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