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Re-appointed Leader to fight for more funding to pay for vital community services

COUNCILLOR Steve Hunt has vowed to continue campaigning for increased funding for Welsh councils after being re-appointed as Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council for a third year.

The Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, Cllr Steve Hunt

Cllr Hunt and Deputy Leader Cllr Alun Llewelyn were re-appointed to their roles at the council’s Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, May 15th, 2024, where a number of other appointments and administrative measures were progressed.

On his re-appointment, Cllr Hunt told the AGM at Port Talbot’s Civic Centre: “After two extremely challenging budgets, my focus this year will be on maintaining a stable council and preparing for an even more difficult budget position from 2025-26.

“Over the last two financial years we’ve faced new costs of £70m but received just £27m in additional funding via the Welsh Government’s Revenue Support Grant.

“The budget gap we faced required renewed focus on cost control and new income sources. I thank all the council officers and trade union partners for their support in achieving a balanced budget while still protecting jobs and the services our residents rely on.

“At this time, the Welsh Government is indicating a 0% Revenue Support Grant Settlement for 2025-26 or even a reduced grant.

“At a time when we still have the effect of inflation and unfunded pay pressures in the system, families continuing to struggle with the cost of living and very high levels of demand across services, the proposed settlement is very worrying.

“I’ve already written jointly with trade unions to Ministers pointing out the consequences of this strategy but there will be further representations made, including through the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) over the coming months and I urge you to make representations through your own channels

“Also, we’ll continue working on the range of economic development opportunities that are so important in bringing new, well paid jobs to our area.

“This of course takes on even more importance given the impact of the changes proposed at Tata Port Talbot. As we do this work, we will be particularly focusing on how local people and businesses can be helped to take advantage of the new opportunities we’re working hard to secure.”

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