North Wales Councils are facing a financial crisis. This week Conwy, Denbighshire, and Gwynedd Councils published their draft budgets for the 24/25 financial year. All three authorities are proposing council tax hikes while also having to cut frontline services.
Catrin Wager, Plaid Cymru candidate for Bangor Aberconwny is calling for ‘fair funding for Wales’ which could alleviate some of these pressures.
She explains: “Residents across Gwynedd, Conwy and Denbighshire are facing a minimum of 9% hike on their council tax for next year. At the same time councils are cutting funding for essential services such as schools, libraries and bin collections. .
“The scandalous Welsh Government funding for local councils favour the Labour run authorities in South Wales, at the expense of rural North Wales Councils.
"Conwy and Gwynedd have been particularly hard hit with only a 2% rise to their funding – the lowest in Wales.
“But at the end of the day, the purse strings are held by Westminster and Wales doesn’t receive the funding it is owed. From the dated and ineffective Barnett Formula to the farce of HS2, Wales deserves fair funding – and fair funding could save our public services, without hitting residents in their pockets.
“Plaid Cymru will always demand fairness for Wales – that is why we are taking action and calling for a review of the Barnett formula and an urgent package of support.”
Yesterday (Wednesday 7 February), Plaid Cymru’s Treasury spokesperson, Ben Lake MP, wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Plaid Cymru have requested that the Treasury urgently commits to providing an equivalent package of support to that offered to Northern Ireland to support county councils and public services in Wales. If such a package were to replicate the Northern Ireland offer per capita, public services in Wales would receive around £5.4 billion.
Mr Lake said the outdated metrics used to determine funding allocation for Wales should be updated, particularly the Welsh funding floor set in 2018 based on data from the 2010 Holtham Commission, which relied on data from the 2001 census – 23 years ago.
He called for a review to assess replacing the Barnett formula with a “new system that moves away from ad-hoc funding of our public services and towards a framework which provides consistent, transparent, and fair funding for Wales”.
As Catrin Wager concludes: “Right now our residents are being let down by both governments and we must seek to put that right.
Homelessness in Gwynedd has risen 35% since 2018/19. Schools in Conwy are being asked to find cuts of between 6-10%. This is the harsh reality on the ground when local services are poorly funded. That is why the fight for fair funding is so important. Fair funding could keep a roof over the heads of our residents, and give our children the best start in life – that’s a fight that neither myself, nor Plaid Cymru, will give up on.”