Wales politics

Cash cuts 'comprehensive service failure' warning by councils

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Media captionCouncil leaders have warned staff will be made redundant in the cash cuts

The body representing Welsh councils has warned of a risk of a "comprehensive failure" of essential local authority services across Wales.

On Tuesday, ministers announced the local government budget will fall by more than £190m (4.1%) next year.

Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) finance spokesman Aaron Shotton said "comprehensive service failure" had been predicted at English councils.

"Such a crisis must be avoided in Wales," said Mr Shotton.

Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews said: "I don't envy anybody in local government with the difficult decisions they have got to take."

The Welsh government's draft budget document states councils had previously been cushioned "from the impact of UK government reductions to our budget".

But Mr Andrews said "very tough times" lay ahead as the Welsh government's own budget had been cut.

Mr Shotton, also leader of Flintshire council, warned that services such as leisure centres, libraries, community facilities and day centres were at risk.

"Redundancies will unfortunately become unavoidable, and I fear for the future of services that provide critical support to the most vulnerable in the community," he said.

"In England there is already talk of comprehensive service failure by 2017-18, with recent reports concluding that the majority of English council leaders believe local councils will begin to fail to deliver the essential services residents require within the next year."

Mr Shotton said a "thorough assessment of whether the whole system of local government finance is fit for purpose" was needed.

But Mr Andrews told BBC Wales that while he understands the "pressures faced by councils", they have had time to prepare and he claimed some have reserves worth 20% of their current budgets.

"The rainy day is here," he said. "There is no question these are tough times."

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