by Rory Sheehan
THERE are ‘difficult decisions’ to be made as Wrexham Council looks ahead to setting its budget, the authority’s leader has warned.
Councils across Wales are preparing to set their next budgets, with nearby Flintshire Council currently looking at a shortfall of more than £24m and rising.
The Flintshire authority is to ask the UK Government and the Welsh Government for more support as it seeks to set a legal and balanced 2023-24 budget in February, while warning that cuts to jobs and services look likely.
In December last year, Wrexham Council was handed a 9.4 per cent increase in its provisional settlement from the Welsh Government, with Flintshire receiving 3.5 per cent.
Wrexham was allocated the seventh highest uplift out of the 22 local authorities in Wales for the next financial year, taking its total funding up to £207m.
Speaking at a Wrexham Council media briefing, leader Cllr Mark Pritchard (Ind) said the authority will “bring in a budget”. But he warned difficult decisions would be made in the coming months to achieve it, and that it will be the ‘most difficult time’ for councils all across Wales.
“As leader of the council, and I’ve been an elected member for a long time, this will be the most difficult time for all local authorities across Wales trying to bring in a budget to keep services sustainable.
“There are conversations ongoing with the Welsh Government and hopefully if there is funding from Westminster (the UK Government) to Cardiff then that funding will be passed on to ourselves.
“At this moment in time we’ve been told that there is no extra money coming across to ourselves, the 22 (local) authorities.
“Obviously that will be challenged and we will continue to do that through the budget process and in meetings with the Welsh Government.
“With reference to ourselves, will we bring a budget in? Yes we will, we do every year and we do it very well.”
“Will there be tough decisions to be made? Absolutely. And those decisions and discussions will go through the political process and we will see what we have to make decisions on.
“At this moment in time it’s all up in the air because we really need to know if there is going to be extra money coming from Westminster and Cardiff to help and support local authorities across Wales.”