Mike Hedges continues his consideration of how the scale of delivery impacts local authority’s delivery of services.
This article continues my consideration of the reorganisation of the Welsh Government funded Welsh public sector.
Local Government mergers are again being considered and there is a political consensus that we need larger local authorities, although calling a reconstituted Dyfed a local Council does seem, to me at least, a little strange.
The current size of local authorities in Wales are shown below.
|3||Rhondda Cynon Taf||238,300|
|9||Neath Port Talbot||141,600|
|12||Vale of Glamorgan||128,500|
|20||Isle of Anglesey||69,700|
England and Scotland have several unitary authorities larger than Cardiff but Scotland has 5 smaller than Merthyr (Inverclyde, Clackmanshire, Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland) and England one (Rutland).
If larger authorities were more efficient and effective then two things would happen: council tax would be lower and performance would be better. The council tax should show that the larger authorities, and Powys which has been deemed not to need to be merged, charging the lowest amount. Using Welsh Government data on 2018/19 County and County Borough Council tax rates.
|District||Band D Council Tax||Relative size|
|Isle of Anglesey||1140||20|
|Vale of Glamorgan||1,187||12|
|Neath Port Talbot||1,497||9|
Whilst the two smallest authorities are in the bottom two places regarding council tax, medium sized authorities appear to perform better than either large or small authorities when it comes to the cost of council tax to the resident.
Does council performance show that the larger authorities by population perform best? According to the Western Mail “ the quality of services delivered by local authorities in Wales is not determined by the size of the council.”
The Western Mail figures are based on 28 indicators across the range of local government, including education, social care, housing, environment and transport, planning and regulatory services, leisure and culture and corporate health.
With four points on offer for councils that performed in the top quartile of each indicator, a maximum score of 112 was possible. Depending on their performance, councils scored between one and four points in each indicator.
This uses figures published in 2015/16 and I will update these figures when I can access the 2016/17 figures.
|Vale of Glamorgan||86||12|
|Rhondda Cynon Taf||77||3|
|Neath Port Talbot||73||9|
|Isle of Anglesey||68||29|
From this it is not possible to conclude that larger councils and Powys perform better with medium sized authorities taking three of the top four places.
In Scotland the variation in council tax is much less than Wales but the lowest council tax is the Western Islands and Shetland and the largest Council, Glasgow, has the largest band D council tax.
I didn’t find it possible to get the same data for Scotland as is available for Wales on relative performance.
I look forward to reading an explanation on how larger councils perform better and an explanation of the advantages of larger councils.
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