Dave Warren, treasurer, Swansea Trades Council and Socialist Party member
Swansea Trades Council held an open conference on 26 January to discuss Swansea council’s budget proposals for 2022-23 and the medium-term plan for the next three years.
As well as the trade union delegates, the meeting was attended by young people from Swansea Young Socialists and Swansea Youth Strike 4 Climate.
Guest speaker Mark Evans, secretary of Carmarthen County Unison, described how his branch had consistently fought for “no-cuts, needs-led budgets”, whether the council was led by Labour or Plaid Cymru. Swansea Trades Council also has a proud history of campaigning against cuts to jobs and services implemented by the Labour-led Swansea council.
Swansea council is to be allocated an additional sum of £33.9 million from the Welsh Government but despite this is still planning to cut millions from the schools and social services budgets for this year, and £21 million over the next three years.
The council’s budget proposals admit that the council has made ‘savings’ of £70 million under the ‘Sustainable Swansea’ strategy since 2013, and presents this as a success. They also admit that if the funding uplift for this year was repeated in future years, the need for cuts could be reduced or even eliminated.
Swansea council currently has £10 million of unallocated general fund reserves and £134 million of earmarked general fund reserves.
The meeting called on Swansea council to:
- Use reserves and prudential borrowing powers to avoid making any further cuts to jobs and services this year. Reject the advice that current reserves cannot be touched
- Meet the pay claims of local authority trade unions
- Reject any privatisation of council services and bring all services back in-house
- Demand that the Welsh Government provides adequate funding for this and future years. Campaign for sufficient funding to restore services, cut by £70 million since 2013, as a minimum
The meeting also resolved that the Trades Council would organise a lobby of the full council meeting which will vote on the budget proposals on 3 March.