South West Wales

Welsh budget: Carmarthenshire council warns hundreds of jobs will go

Image caption Offers of redundancy or early retirement have been made to staff at Carmarthenshire council

Hundreds of jobs will be cut at Carmarthenshire council as a result of the Welsh government's draft budget, its leader has said.

At a council meeting on Thursday, Kevin Madge announced "many hundreds" of jobs would go as the authority would have to make savings of £30m.

Offers of redundancy or early retirement have been made to staff.

The Welsh government said it had cushioned the impact of UK government cuts in the past three years.

But this week, Finance Minister Jane Hutt announced funding for local government would be cut by almost 6% next year.

Local government spending will fall from £4.648bn this year to £4.466bn next year, a cut in cash terms of 3.91% or 5.81% in real terms.

Ms Hutt stressed the priority was to protect health, schools and universal benefits such as free prescriptions, school breakfasts and bus passes for older people.

Mr Madge warned on Thursday of extremely tough times ahead.

In a statement, he said: "This is an unprecedented situation, and it means we are faced with making some very difficult and unpopular decisions.

"People will have to brace themselves - but I want to assure everyone that we will do our very best to protect frontline services, and continue to provide as many services as we can whilst avoiding compulsory redundancies wherever possible."

He also appealed for "some understanding" from ministers on the "extraordinarily difficult times ahead" for councils.

'Core values'

The Welsh government said in a statement that over the past three years it had been able to cushion local authorities from "the impact of relentless cuts to our budget from the UK government".

"We have shaped our budget to focus on our core values of social justice and protecting the most vulnerable. We have made some tough decisions between areas as well as within programmes," said a spokesperson.

"We are looking at ways to work alongside and support authorities to manage the reductions to their funding, and the minister for local government and government business will announce full details of the local government settlement next week.

"The only way to confront these financial challenges and sustain local public services is to do different things. Councils need to strive for transformational change to manage the difficult times ahead."

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