AMS clashed in a heated row over local authority funding in the Assembly earlier this week.

Councils in Wales have faced repeated budget cuts in recent years, and in October's draft budget the Welsh Government revealed further cuts in the coming financial year.

Monmouthshire County Council is one of just five councils in Wales to see its funding cut by one per cent next year, while both Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent councils face 0.5 per cent cuts. Although Newport City Council will see its budget increase by 0.2 per cent, while Torfaen's funding will increase by 0.1 per cent, both of these represent real-terms cuts when inflation is taken into account.

Earlier this month finance secretary Mark Drakeford announced an extra £141.5 million will be handed out to local authorities during this financial year and the next - although how this new funding will be distributed is yet to be revealed.

And there were angry scenes in the Assembly on Wednesday as AMs debated a motion by the Welsh Conservatives calling for the formula used to assess how much each council is given to be reviewed.

Conservative AM Darren Millar said it was important to remember it is councils which are "at the coalface, delivering many of the public services that our constituents rely on each and every day".

"The case for reform in terms of the funding formula has become more and more compelling in recent years," he said.

"The current funding formula has been there for 17 years. It's based on many different elements and indicators, including how much council tax the Welsh Government considers each local authority should be able to charge, and population data that is based on the 1991 census, even though we have census information that is bang up to date, and estimates of the population that are much more recent.

"Under the funding formula, the gap between the best and worst-funded local authorities widens each and every year, and it currently stands at £600 per head. That's tens of millions of pounds of underfunding for largely rural local authorities where, due to geography, delivering services is often much more expensive."

He also criticised local government secretary Alun Davies for comments he made last month in which he likened local authority leaders to Oliver Twist asking for more, after which some compared him to workhouse boss Mr Bumble from the same Charles Dickens story.

Keeping with the Dickens theme, Conservative South Wales East AM Mohammad Asghar branded the Welsh Government "Scrooge-like" and said he was concerned rural areas such as Monmouthshire appeared to be particularly poorly served.

"Labour's unfair funding formula will mean people, particularly those living in rural areas, will face damaging cuts in public services and rising council tax bills," he said.

"We need a strategic review of the funding formula to ensure a fairer settlement.

"We need a funding formula that takes into account the needs of rural Wales and that ensures that rural councils are no longer penalised.

But Labour AM Mike Hedges said changing the way the cash is allocated would not solve the problem.

"Everybody thinks you change the formula and everybody's going to win," he said. "That's financially impossible and numerically illiterate.

"If you've got the same amount of money to be distributed around 22 councils, every time you get a winner you get a loser."

Responding to the debate, Blaenau Gwent AM Mr Davies said he would launch a review into the formula only if it was requested by the Welsh Local Government Association.

He added: "A sterile debate about how we allocate funding is not an adequate response to the challenges being faced by local government or by other areas of spending within the Welsh Government.

"We have to ask far harder and far tougher questions, because in the future we will have significant reductions in the funding available to us, and that means asking the hard questions about the structures of governance.

It means asking the difficult questions about how we deliver services. It means asking the really searching questions of ourselves and our colleagues about how we are able to create the structures of service delivery and local accountability and governance that can deliver and protect those services, not just in the age of austerity but the age of Brexit-fuelled austerity.

"By walking away from that debate, we walk away from the responsibility that our offices give us."

The motion to review the funding formula was voted down.