NEWS councils in Wales are to be handed an extra £141.5 million over the next three years represents "significant progress", the leader of Newport City Council has said.

Earlier this week the Welsh Government's finance secretary Mark Drakeford has announced £141.5 million will be handed out to local authorities in the Welsh Government’s final budget, to be announced next month. How much each council will be given is yet to be revealed.

During the current financial year £6 million will be handed out to help pay for repairs as a result of Storm Callum, while an extra £4 million will also be invested into social care. Meanwhile, £7.5 million will go towards teachers’ pay and £50 million will go to councils’ capital funds.

In the next financial year £54 million will be handed out to ensure no council faces a cut of more than 0.5 per cent, as well as for children’s social care and other schemes. And in 2020-2021 another £20 million will be dished out.

Leader of Newport Council and the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) Cllr Debbie Wilcox welcomed the announcement, saying it represented "significant progress".

But she warned it "does not mean the avoidance of cuts or rises to council tax".

“Despite this welcome announcement, there is no doubt that this remains a particularly challenging financial settlement after eight years of austerity," she said. "In particular, schools and teachers’ pay pressures remain and a huge pension cost remains unresolved.

"Welsh Government and WLGA are writing jointly to Westminster to press for this to be fully funded by the Treasury.

“We look forward to continuing constructive dialogue with the Welsh Government to address these issues and start identifying and agreeing major service pressures ahead and in next year’s budget setting process.

"The key point however is to stress that in Wales, our councils working with Welsh Government have sought wherever possible to cushion the blow of cuts and protect precious frontline services.”

In October’s settlement Monmouthshire County Council was one of just five councils in Wales to see its funding cut by one per cent – a £936,000 fall on this year. The council will therefore be among those set to benefit from the extra cash next year to cut this decrease by at least half.

Both Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent councils faced 0.5 per cent cuts, representing drops of £1.31 million and £528,000 respectively.

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

Announcing the new funding Mr Drakeford said: “In preparing the draft budget 2019-20, the cabinet recognised the real pressures local authorities are facing and were resolute in our commitment to do all we could to protect them from the worst effects of the UK Government’s damaging policy of austerity as we entered this ninth year of austerity.

“When the National Assembly passed the final budget 2018-19 in January 2018, local authorities were facing a one per cent reduction in the revenue support grant (RSG) for 2019-20 – this was equivalent to a cash reduction of £43 million.

“We worked hard during the preparation of the draft budget 2019-20 to reduce that cut in funding in the RSG to less than £15 million (equivalent to a reduction of 0.3 per cent in the RSG).

“We also put in place a floor to ensure no authority would face a reduction in funding of more than one per cent.

“The draft budget also provided £84 million of additional revenue in special grants and other funding streams for local government outside the RSG."

He added: “This was still a challenging settlement overall for local authorities and we committed to local government being a key priority for any additional funding following the UK autumn budget last month.

“Local government has been at the heart of our considerations as we have worked through the detail of the UK autumn budget on our spending proposals over the last few weeks."