Which local authority in Wales spends the most, per head, on running services?
The answer is Rhondda Cynon Taf, at £2,503 per head in 2016-17 — £620 more than Monmouthshire’s £1,883, at the foot of the table.
But in the context of rising need, neither of these figures seems sufficient.
The figures are for gross revenue spending, the amounts councils spend on their operations, in contrast to capital spending on new buildings and infrastructure.
The four authorities with per head spends over £2,400 are all former coal and steel heartlands which have suffered during the years of industrial decline in Wales, and in the UK overall. Neath Port Talbot still, tenaciously, retains its steelworks, but workers there have just traded future pension income for continuing jobs today.
West Wales authorities do not feature in the top ten. Carmarthenshire is 11th, with spending per head of £2,237. Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, 15th and 18th with £2,207 and £2,194 respectively, are rural counties where service provision is relatively expensive, there are miles of highways to maintain, and ageing populations with rising needs for social care. Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion both have over 20% of their residents aged 65 plus, and in Pembrokeshire the over-65s are almost 22% of the total population. In Rhondda Cynon Taf, though, barely over 17% are over-65s, and in Merthyr Tydfil under 17%.
The three authorities with the lowest spend per head all border England, and Monmouthshire at the bottle of the table is relatively affluent, certainly compared with the old industrial valleys, but is not exactly Kensington and Chelsea.
Perhaps the main question should be whether any of the per head spending figures are remotely adequate — and if they are not, where on earth additional resources could be found.
|Authority||Population||Gross revenue spending £||Revenue spending per head £|
|Rhondda Cynon Taf||237626||594740636||2503|
|Neath Port Talbot||140879||342450123||2431|
|Vale of Glamorgan||127985||275225417||2150|
Population figures are for the start of 2016-17. Gross revenue spends are from the Welsh Government.