Swansea Trades Council pledges to fight local government cuts

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.