Headlines: July 9th, 2004

Local councils in Wales are forecasting a 16 per cent rise in the amount they will invest in their services in the current financial year. Figures just released put total forecast capital expenditure by local authorities in 2004-05 at 951 million poundsThe figures include forecasts of a 42 per cent increase in spending on roads and transport, 40 per cent in social services, 88 per cent more on sport and recreation and a 9 per cent increase in capital spending in the education sector.

Much of the expenditure depends on the successful outcome of local authority bids for capital finance but Sue Essex, Local Government Minister in the Welsh Assembly said the figures were good news for public services in Wales.

The new figures show provision for housing services accounted for 28 per cent of the total capital forecast. Roads and transport will take up a further 19 per cent and education services 14 per cent. Just over a quarter of the funding for the forecast total expenditure is in the form of general capital funding, which may be spent at the discretion of local authorities. A further 23 per cent is from supported borrowing, 18 per cent from the use of capital receipts and 14 per cent from specific capital grants and contributions.

Sue Essex said the Welsh Assembly Government was working for the long-term transformation of public services in Wales, which required investment in the assets that made services sustainable. She was delighted that local authorities were able to make use of the money available from the Assembly Government to forecast an increase in capital programmes.