LEE Waters AM has said that he believes that councils need to work together more in an attempt to save money, which could be invested in essential services rather than cutting them and he said that he was very concerned about the plans to make cuts in the child psychology service.
The AM said that he had visited Scotland recently and was impressed with the way councils there were working together and embracing digital technology to streamline the way they deliver services. As an example he said: We have 22 councils across Wales all printing and delivering council tax bills all from separate offices. It does not make sense.
Mr Waters said that the climate of austerity forced on the Welsh people by the Tory Government could have been worse had it not been for the Welsh Labour Government’s determination to minimise the impact by making money available for local authorities.
He said: “The reality is that we have had eight years of austerity. The Welsh Government has tried its best to shield councils from the worse of it. The councils in England have been hit by bigger cuts.
Speaking about the difficulties ahead for Welsh councils the AM said; “The cuts councils have faced in Wales are much smaller. We are reaching the end of our ability to shield councils from further cuts. Mark Drakeford announced this week that we have found a pot of £14m. Councils now face a cut of 0.5%. it still puts the councils in a difficult spot. The health Service and the council are not joined up and that is a problem. We all agree that tackling issues with children’s mental health should be a priority. I hope the council can look again at that.”
When asked about cutting the pay of the top layer of council Lee Waters AM said: “It won’t make a huge difference making cuts to the pay of the top dogs. Senior officers are paid at levels which are hard to justify. I am leading a report with the Welsh Government on how we can free up funds for front line services by using digital technology. There is a real tension on the one hand saying these are local council elected by local people. The Welsh Government are trying to respect council’s autonomy but on the other hand we need a uniform approach across Wales.”
Asked whether the Welsh Audit Office could intervene in taking councils to task over spending he said: “There is a real difficulty trying to jon up local government and health. It is frustrating that councils are refusing to work regionally when services could be delivered more cost effectively. They refuse across Wales. The Welsh Audit Office have not focussed on digital savings in local government.. Councils have got carried away with the idea that their status matters. It doesn’t. People care about their services.”
Asked if councils should focus on their remit of providing statutory services rather than getting involved with tourism and vanity projects the Llanelli AM said: “We could spend all our money on health and social services. They have to grow the local economy too. That should pay for better services. There is a tension and there are trade offs. There is a very strong domestic tourism market. There is a huge potential to generate wealth from tourism. It is heart breaking to see these kids but that is what austerity has brought us. We need to change government at UK level. Councils need to do far more to share resources with other councils and use digital to deliver services more efficiently. There is more they can do which can help avoid the cuts. The Wellness Centre could be great for Llanelli. It is an exciting project. They have got to go out of their way to be transparent about how the deals are done and the conditions of those deals. That they are not hiding anything. It would be awful to see it undermined by a lack of transparency.”
Comments on social media following the council’s announcement that there may be an increase in council tax while cuts are being made to services include;
Nigel Owens: Where does a the money go then?
Dan Bob Snaith: Well in that case tax should be cut too!
Dionne O’Brien: Mental health is at its highest ever . According to BBC 2 on Jeremy vine today and Child Health is constantly In The news then they cut child psychologists . What hope or chance do young people have to repair and recover ?????
Dorian Gregory: so why spend money on the £200m Wellness and Life Science Village project when you cant even manage the books with the day to day running of whats going now ??? thinking some are having a right big back hander for this to go ahead ,
Angela Morgan: No cuts to the top of the range cars the Councillors are driving around in!
Scott Wilson: Reduce road sweeping … I had no idea you cleaned the roads around here, their a mess
Amber Khan: While council tax is going up…..what are paying for ?
Jonny Davies: Cut the waste, improve productivity, streamline the management and invest More money into services like child psychology.
Lee Rees: Road sweeping lmao. Never see them!
Leanne Taylor: Road tax should be cut! Any cuts to our services means cuts to what we pay!
Diane Williams: They can also cut out civic dinners and giving themselves pay rises ?????
Sarah Holborn: Child psychologists being cut!!! Really!! Absolutely appalling…..mental health issues amongst youngsters are on the rise especially children with autism…and I had to fight for help for my daughter….I’m so angry!! What planet are they on…whos the fat cat with the big bonuses?? Come to my house and see a teenager cope with autism and the anxiety that comes with it….I know quite a few children being let down by the system….for shame on you!! They are our future!!
Gail Williams: Cut the salaries of the top dogs, big savings can be made there!!
Matthew Daniels: Plenty of money for speed bumps though. CCC shambles
Sam Lewis: Surely we should be making cut backs within the council its self.. There are to many desk jobs and fat cats that do sweet fa.
Mkim Thomas: Where is the reserve pot, it is supposed to cover any cuts
Helen McGuire: Oh my god the children of our future need all the support they can get!!!
David Martin: Let’s hope when we’re out of the EU the 39 billion gets spent on public services
David Martin: Just heard that orthodontist are now going to charge ,this is getting ridiculous .
Peter A Tully: CCC top man gets paid more than the PM! Get him out cleaning the roads! After all he is employed by the council as a public employee. As for mental health services, we don’t have any fit for purpose ones now.
Ian Gallagher: Our council tax goes up every year but services are cut so where exactly is all our money wasted ? They are on about pollution in sandy road with the traffic , the stretch now from burry port to llanelli is a shambles traffic jams every day even a Sunday , and the council denies there’s a problem wel try sitting in it every day . P.s spend the tax payers money sensibly not wasting it .
Charlene Evans: I’d much prefer a messed up road than a messed up child! Useless council, never budget properly
Susan David: Dear lord –what on earth next the reduction of gritting roads ect —So Dangerous –‘it already horrendous driving g in the evening -”as all.the lights are up with God lighting the sky —leaving the streets dark — it not nice to be out driving g or walking these days
April Smith: Does anyone on here know how we can get the proposals to cut the number of educational psychologists and child psychologists thrown out? Is there any petitioning planned yet? It’s an issue that hits home with me really hard. I wouldn’t be alive right now without the intervention from a child psychologist and both my children have special needs and are under entry to education. It’s difficult enough to get assessments carried out and statements implemented for the majority that require it because of cutbacks that have already happened, its absolutely disgusting that they want further cuts! Lee Waters AM / AC is there anything the public can do to prevent the proposals affecting children’s services in particular?
Sarah Jayne Davies: April Smith I think it’s disgusting cutting funding for child’s psychologists. I work in early years and children who need the support at home, school etc are not receiving due to cuts. Entry to education is so important to ensure that children get the…See more
April Smith: Sarah Jayne Davies my son was referred to entry to education by his flying start nursery with the aim to get support in ready for when he started school. He ended up in mainstream school nursery with no support, he struggled, the school struggled with him, we struggled with the fallout from it all as well. The school have been very good in stepping up and putting things into place so that he’s more supported before the assessments are started but this shouldn’t have happened in the first place. We have had to make the decision to take him to have certain assessments and diagnoses done privately to prevent him slipping further through the net. Unfortunately my story is far too common and to cut funding further would be abhorrent.
Paul Gliddon@ Just stop paying council tax in protest, they cant take us all to court you know
Richard Jones: If your taking away road sweepers take away council tax aswell then as why pay council tax if nothing getting cleaned the streets are full of rubbish and pavements are all looking dirty and old. Do something about it or cut council tax
Louissa Meredith: To balance the books vulnerable children have to wait for a child psychologist and also the impact the increase in class sizes would have on pupils and staff. Very sad.
Geoffrey Fleming: The old scarlets ground should come out on sandy roundabout
Beth Harker: It’s spent by usless meeting that gets nowhere and council dinners x
Ian Gallagher: Excuses excuses excuses labour government in Llanelli to many years wake up people.