At the Tipping Point: Welsh Local Government and Austerity

This report outlines Welsh councils’ responses to austerity, drawing on interviews with Welsh council leaders, chief executives, finance directors, and external stakeholders.

Councils have responded to austerity in three main ways: by making efficiency savings; by reducing the need for council services; and by changing the role played by councils and other stakeholders.

There are several measures, such as raising council tax and charging for services, which can help in responding to austerity, but there are concerns about their long-term effectiveness, sustainability, and fairness.

Welsh Government could do more to support local government to respond to austerity, such as making changes to the financial settlement and the system of grants. Local government could improve the way it learns from good practice in Wales and elsewhere, provide better peer support, consider alternative forms of collaboration, and improve its approach to risk-taking. There needs to be a debate about the sustainability of Welsh local government and how councils can be supported to be resilient.