Headlines: November 24th, 2004

Local authorities that serve the most deprived areas of Wales are to get extra resources under the Welsh Assembly Government’s final budget settlement for local government.Assembly Finance and Local Government Minister, Sue Essex, has included a 5 per cent increase in the deprivation grant in recognition of the need for additional resources for those councils serving the most deprived communities if they are to deliver key public services without introducing undue increases in council tax for people who are least able to pay. The increase is in line with the provisional local government settlement announced earlier this month.

The final settlement also includes a 2.5 per cent increase in the Performance Incentive Grant paid to all local authorities delivering improvements in the delivery of public services in line with the Assembly government’s agenda.

The increases, together with just over 13 million pounds from the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the Local Authority Business Growth Incentive Scheme, mean the final budget includes an increase of more than 15 million pounds in non ring fenced support for local government in Wales compared with the draft budget.

Sue Essex said the extra money would help local councils to deliver public services and to keep down council tax bills. ” The additional money in the deprivation grant is aimed at authorities with the more deprived communities in Wales. It will ensure that councils can continue to provide the key services, like education and social care, that people need and expect in those communities without having to place an undue burden on those least able to pay,” she added.