THIS year's financial settlement from Welsh Government for Ceredigion has been called “bad news” by the council leader.

Cllr Ellen ap Gwynn told cabinet on Tuesday (January 12) that the local government funding settlement from Welsh Government left Ceredigion at the “foot of the list” with an increase of only two per cent – around £2million – while the highest topped five per cent.

She said that “a lot of lobbying needs to be done to ensure it’s a fairer system” which would stop any authority receiving less than three per cent, with Elin Jones MS involved in discussions.

The settlement ranks Ceredigion at 2nd and bottom of all Welsh authorities in terms of a percentage increase from last year, just behind Wrexham which received the second lowest settlement of 2.3 per cent.

Neighbouring Pembrokeshire is ranked seventh with a four per cent rise, with Carmarthenshire at 13th with a 3.8 per cent increase - the average figure for all local authorities in Wales.

Cllr ap Gwyn told the Tivyside: "It was with real disappointment that I received the notification of the Local Government draft financial settlement for 2021-22.

"Following a really tough year and the personal assurance of Julie James, Minister for Local Government and Housing, to all local authority leaders that we would have nothing to worry about in the next financial year, it was a real kick in the teeth to see that Ceredigion has only been awarded a two per cent uplift for 2021/22.

"Our projected cost pressures for next year are £6.5 million against which the proposed uplift of two per cent will only give us £2m. This means a shortfall of £4.5 million which will inevitably mean a further uplift in Council Tax and further cuts.

"At this level of cuts we are going to have to look at losing staff and due to continuous cuts over recent years these cuts will inevitably fall on our care and education services as all other services have been rationalised and cut to the bone already.

"I would appeal to Mark Drakeford and his Cabinet colleagues to ensure that a funding floor is put in place to give all counties a more equal settlement of around four per cent.

" Following such a harrowing year for us all, during which Ceredigion County Council has wholeheartedly supported Welsh Government’s efforts to deal with this pandemic, it is the least Welsh Government can do to show their true appreciation to our staff who have given their all during these past difficult months."

In a letter to the Minister for Local Government and Housing, Elin Jones says: "I’ve seen the letter sent to you by the leader of Ceredigion County Council outlining the Council’s disappointment to only receive a two per cent increase in its settlement for next year, andthe consequential funding problems that will arise for the Council from such a low settlement.

"The Ceredigion council settlement is the lowest percentage increase in Wales, only two councils are below three per cent - Ceredigion at two per cent and Wrexham County Borough Council at 2.3 per cent and there is a significant variation between Ceredigion at two per cent and the highest percentage increase for Newport City Council at 5.6 per cent.

"In previous years when such a significant variation has also been proposed, then a funding floor has been introduced, in order to aid those councils with the lowest percentage settlement.

"I’m aware that the WLGA has asked for such a funding floor and for it to be placed at 3 per cent. This would mean that both Ceredigion and Wrexham councils would be lifted to three per cent and that would bring them closer in-line to the percentage increases for the other local authorities.

"I believe that this would provide Ceredigion County Council with an additional £1million, which would enable it to retain the council tax increase at 3.5 per cent and also ensure that it doesn’t have to make too many of its staff redundant at this most difficult of times.

"I’m sure I do not need to point out to you that our local authorities have been critical to the effort to deal with

coronavirus and therefore it has been a significant blow to the morale of local authority employees in Ceredigion, to see that the funding settlement for Ceredigion was only set at a two per cent increase.

"I look forward to your positive response and hope that you will be able to introduce such a reasonable funding floor, as the Welsh Government has done in previous years."