Smarten Up, Because We Won't Bail You out, Davies Tells Councils; Finance Minister Calls for a Focus on Better Delivery

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), December 2, 2008 | Go to article overview

Smarten Up, Because We Won't Bail You out, Davies Tells Councils; Finance Minister Calls for a Focus on Better Delivery


Byline: David Williamson Senedd Correspondent

WELSH public services must become more efficient - because there is no spare money to bail them out, Finance Minister Andrew Davies demanded yesterday.

In a stark warning to Welsh councils hoping for a funding boost in next week's finalised budget settlement, Mr Davies stressed that there would be absolutely no extra cash.

At a time of tightening resources and economic downturn he called for public services to end an "obsession" with funding and focus on delivering results. Instead, the public sector must tighten its belt and make better use of local resources for goods and services.

Mr Davies said: "There is no secret source of money. We just have to be much more efficient, much more effective about how we use that scarce resource.

"We have to stop this constant obsession about how much we spend and be much more focussed on what we get for that investment."

Councils have claimed the 2.9% increase for local government will create a "funding crisis". But Mr Davies added: "We're running very, very low reserves - 1%."

The Swansea West AM said raising council taxes would have a hugely detrimental effect on Welsh households.

"I don't think they can be in any doubt that people are feeling the pinch, household budgets are under pressure, there's a lot more insecurity around. We fully expect them to be responsible in exercising that judgement.

"I do recall last year we were told we were going to have double-digit council tax rises, there were going to be cuts in jobs and services, but the outcome was actually an average council tax rise of 3.8% across Wales."

Today, Mr Davies will unveil projects backed by the Assembly Government's pounds 400m Strategic Capital Investment Framework, hoping to help the construction sector.

His comments came as the Welsh Conservatives claimed the Assembly Government budget could be cut by pounds 292m in 2010-11 as part of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's drive for pounds 5bn in efficiency savings. …

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