COUNCILS in Gwent will face budget cuts up to £1.3 million next year, it has been revealed.

The Welsh Government today announced its draft local government settlement for the 2019-2020 financial year.

This follows last week’s announcement of the draft budget for next year, including a £20 million cut to local government budgets.

Newport City Council will see its budget increase by £336,000, or 0.2 per cent, while Torfaen's funding will rise by £151,000, or 0.1 per cent. But both of these represent real-terms cuts when inflation is taken into account.

And the news elsewhere in Gwent is even grimmer, with both Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent to see their allocations cut by 0.5 per cent - representing drops of £1.31 million and £528,000 respectively. And Monmouthshire County Council is one of only five in Wales to be faced with the maximum cut of one per cent, representing a decrease of £936,000 on this year.

In total £4.2 billion will be handed out for councils next year – a decrease of 0.3 per cent on this year.

Monmouthshire council council leader Cllr Peter Fox slammed the news.

“After eight years of cuts where budgets have fallen by a quarter, Welsh Government had a real opportunity to end austerity in Wales," he said. "With £370 million new monies arriving from Westminster, an imaginative approach to funding preventative services to keep people out of hospitals was needed. Instead, the Welsh Government has given the NHS a seven per cent increase and cut council budgets for the eighth year in succession.

“In glossy strategies such as ‘Prosperity for All’ and ‘Healthier Wales’, the Welsh Government claim that social care is one of their top priorities - there is no evidence to support this. Indeed, of the £370 million available, social care will only receive £30 million - short on pound notes but weighted down in bureaucracy.

“In short, lots of fine words but no matching funding commitment. This budget is full of tired and outdated thinking. Ironically, Welsh Government are giving us more money to pay for tarmac when local services have run out of road.”

And his counterpart in Torfaen Cllr Anthony Hunt said he was "very disappointed" by the news.

“After eight years of austerity, council funding is at breaking point across Britain," he said. "Without an end to austerity, local public services as we know them are under real threat.

“I recognise the Welsh Government have had it tough thanks to austerity, but the 22 per cent real terms cut in local government funding over that period is significantly worse than the five per cent cut they’ve faced themselves.

“Local services face a perfect storm, not just because of the cumulative impact of year after year of cuts, but also because councils are having to find extra money to cover national pay rises and other pressures like the growing demand on social care.

“So whilst we’ll take every opportunity to make savings that protect the front line, given these continued cuts it’s just impossible for us to totally protect schools, social care and other vital services.

“Unless the Welsh Government work with us to improve this settlement, and move towards fair funding for local services, it will be inevitable that valuable jobs will be lost and vital services will suffer.”

And Caerphilly council leader Cllr David Poole warned the impact of the cut would be "far reaching".

"We are likely to see unpalatable council tax rises, increased redundancies, bigger class sizes due to reductions in teaching staff and less spending power in the communities resulting in business failures," he said.

"The UK Government’s austerity measures are decimating local government and there seems no end in sight to the pressures that we have been working so hard to absorb over the past few years."

He added: "Unfortunately we have now reached the point where we can no longer make back office savings, so severe cuts to frontline services will become inevitable. It is clear that we will need to take some very difficult decisions in order to balance our budgets.”

Local government and public services secretary Alun Davies said: "After the announcement of the final budget last year, authorities were facing the prospect of a one per cent reduction in core funding for 2019-20, equivalent to a £43 million reduction in cash terms.

“We have worked hard, across government, to offer local government the best settlement possible in this ninth year of austerity.

“We have made further allocations to the local government settlement to mitigate most of the reduction local government had been expecting.

“As a result, the £43 million cut has been reduced to less than £13 million, including floor funding, which equates to a reduction of 0.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis compared to the current year.

“The draft budget last week also included a series of additional grants for local government, including £30 million for social care and £15 million for education and the restoration of other funding streams where cuts had previously been announced.

“While we have worked hard to offer local government the best settlement possible, we recognise this settlement is a real-terms cut in core funding, at a time when authorities face real pressures from an increase in demand from an ageing population; pay awards and other inflationary pressures.

“As we have made clear in discussions with our colleagues in local government, we recognise the pressures they are facing and will continue to do all we can to shield them from the worst effects of austerity."

He added the UK Government's budget, due to be published on Monday, October 28, would be taken into account in the Welsh Government's final budget.

Newport and Blaenau Gwent councils have not yet responded to requests for comment.