Across Wales our local authorities have been robbed of a staggering £1 billion since the National Assembly was set up because of a discredited rule that forces them to send council house rent money to the Treasury. The figures were released (13th September) as Trade Union leaders today warned that UK public bodies faced the possibility of losing up to 200,000 jobs as a result of the Con Dem public sector cuts and their pressure to cut costs.
The Western Mail (13th September) revealed that across Wales, two councils and two police forces had already confirmed that some 2,000 job cuts were very likely.
Jonathan Edwards, the Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, used a Freedom of Information request to the National Assembly to discover the true scale of the £1 billion loss. A similar request made to Whitehall resulted in a response that the Treasury did not hold a record of money sent it by the 22 Welsh councils.
At the moment under existing arrangements, Local Councils in Wales that raise more from council rents than they have to spend in maintenance on the homes must send any surplus cash to the UK Government. This cash is then redistributed to that those authorities which spend more on refurbishment and repairs than they receive in rent. Records of the transactions for each council are known as the Housing Revenue Account (HRA).
The figures make interesting reading, especially locally:
Net loss from Housing Revenue Account 1999/2000 to 2010/2011
Blaenau Gwent £23,383,743
Net gain from Housing Revenue Account 1999/2000 to 2010/2011
Merthyr Tydfil £4,777,139
The grand total lost to Wales since establishment of the National Assembly comes to:
This has got to change and change quickly...