Rebecca Evans MS, Minister for Finance and Local Government
As part of the Welsh Government’s Programme for Government, Welsh Ministers have committed to reducing the administrative burden on local authorities (LAs), to allow them to focus on their vitally important work delivering for the people of Wales. At the heart of this work is our desire to ensure that LAs are not hampered by unnecessary bureaucracy. This commitment reflects the Welsh Government’s unwavering support for local democracy and our aspiration to work in partnership to deliver our ambitions for Wales.
We know that in order to relieve pressure on both local government and Welsh Government at this time of stretched resources, the need to identify, reduce, and eliminate burdensome or unnecessary process is stronger than ever.
I am grateful to the LA representatives have who have worked with my officials to help us understand where the key issues lie. These discussions overwhelmingly highlighted grants management and administration as the most burdensome administrative overhead, and the areas with the greatest opportunity for change to achieve mutual benefit.
By way of addressing the issues raised, I am pleased to confirm that the Welsh Government will pursue a programme of work with three objectives: the payment of fewer separate grants; more proportionate management and administration of those grants which are paid; and no increase in other administrative requirements as a result.
In particular, Cabinet colleagues and I have agreed to further work being done to deliver against key recommendations in relation to:
- a programme of work being undertaken to reduce the number of separate grants paid to local authorities from 2024/25 and to consider temporary de-hypothecation if the wider context makes this appropriate.
- local authorities being treated as trusted partners in the context of Welsh Government funding of policy priorities. This will include the adoption of a framework driving more proportionate management and administration of the remaining grant funding paid to LAs, in line with the agreed framework principles.
- the co-development with local government of a set of agreed principles to be adhered to in the development of future policy and funding arrangements. These principles will apply to the delivery of new functions exercised by local government, including those arising from new legislation.
I know that this important programme of work is a shared priority for both local government and Welsh Government, as we work together in partnership to make sustainable changes for the future. The Welsh Government will work closely with local government on the development of a new funding framework and the co-production of principles for future ways of working. Our future way of working should put the responsibility for delivery and value for money with local authorities without unnecessary checks. The Partnership Council for Wales, and particularly its Finance Sub Group, will be key mechanisms for overseeing this process and for enabling timely discussions to ensure progress against a challenging timescale.
It is also important that we consider the impact of the changes on the third and voluntary sector which receives funding via local authorities for a number of their activities, and we will be engaging with the sector over the coming weeks and months.
Finally, I am aware that, during discussions with LA representatives, a number of other issues were identified as causing unnecessary administrative burdens and I wish to assure colleagues that these are either being incorporated into this work, or will be followed up separately.
I will keep Members informed of developments as this work progresses.