On Monday in Parliament Gerald Jones, Labour MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, urged the UK Government to commit to providing the funding Welsh councils desperately need to cover flood relief costs, which the Prime Minister had promised four months ago.
After floods caused by Storm Dennis in February devastated communities in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney and across Wales, Gerald secured a promise from the Prime Minister that the relief funds local communities needed to recover would be provided by the UK Government.
However, relief funds have still not been provided to the Welsh Government more than four months on from the floods, and in Parliament Gerald called on the UK Government to commit to providing the much-needed support, with councils in Wales still facing huge repair and relief costs from the floods while trying to cope with the additional costs associated with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Councils in Wales were already under immense financial pressure before the coronavirus pandemic, and there are now growing concerns that some may be forced to cut further frontline services if no additional financial support is received to help deal with the costs of flooding recovery and the response to coronavirus.
Although funding for both local government and environmental issues such as flooding in Wales are devolved to the Welsh Government, its budget from the UK Government has been cut by £4 billion since 2010 under continued austerity measures, and Gerald has urged the Government to step up and deliver the additional funding that Welsh local authorities desperately need to recover and support essential frontline services.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Gerald said:
“The financial position of Merthyr Tydfil and Caerphilly County Borough Councils, which cover my constituency, was difficult enough before the pandemic owing to years of UK Government austerity.
“Will the Minister commit to ensuring that the Welsh Government receive the funding they need for Welsh local authorities and the funding that the Prime Minister committed to Wales in February to tackle the effects of Storm Dennis?
“The impact of the floods and the pandemic have caused a hugely difficult situation for local authorities in my area and across Wales.”
In response, Simon Clarke, Minister for Local Government acknowledged the impact of the floods on local communities and confirmed that the promised funds for flood relief would indeed be paid, although there were no details given on when or how this would happen, with Gerald reiterating that he would continue to press the Government to deliver the much-needed support, and to confirm when and how the funds would reach the Welsh Government.