Local Government Finance

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2015 Local Government Service Group Conference
19 February 2015

The Wales Local Government Committee is acutely aware of the increasing pressures placed upon the services that our members provide and that they are living with the dire consequences of the financial stranglehold that the current Con/Dem Government are imposing upon the annual budget settlements .We acknowledge that such draconian funding reductions have been decimating equivalent services in England for a number of years, with non statutory services disappearing and statutory services being externalised to unscrupulous private contractors. This situation is completely unacceptable and unsustainable to our members and the beneficiaries of these services, as we see the function of Local Government being consigned to the dustbin of the public sector.

We need to continue to pressurise the Westminster Government to halt their idealistically driven attack upon local government settlements, we also need to start to explore alternative options which could help to alleviate these acute financial pressures.

The Wales Local Government Committee therefore calls upon Conference to instruct the Service Group Executive to engage with partners such as the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) and the New Economic Foundation to establish ways in which Local Government can utilise untapped resources, such as exploring any potential way in which a levy could be introduced to those landlords who rent their properties to students.

Student houses represent a significant part of the privately rented sector within our towns and cities; they are often subject to considerable rental charges and often charge a retainer fee if the accommodation remains unoccupied during holiday periods. Yet these landlords are not obliged to make any financial contribution to the local Council. If a local levy could be introduced it could then be ploughed back into local authorities in order to help redress the acute financial deficit within Local Government.

In conjunction with any exploration of such alternatives we would also urge Conference to agree for the Service Group Executive to continue to lobby the Treasury to agree 3 year financial settlements for Local Government which would aid a more strategic approach to local authorities’ medium term financial plans, rather than the current arrangement which inevitably entails Councils financially ‘fire fighting’ on an annual basis.