THE amount of cash handed for council services in Blaenau Gwent is the fifth lowest in Wales.

The council’s funding settlement of £109.76 million is down £1.11 million on this year, and has fallen by one per cent.

And the council is among six of Wales’ 22 local authorities, including Monmouthshire and Caerphilly, to be allocated ‘top-up funding’ in order to ensure its budget does not fall by more than one per cent.

Although the council’s provisional handout is set at £108.87 million, this would represent a 1.8 per cent drop on this year.

As a result, the authority is being given an extra £890,000 - more than all five other councils also receiving a ‘top-up’ put together.

A Blaenau Gwent council spokeswoman said: "The council will need to carefully consider the draft settlement from Welsh Government in more detail to ascertain its implications for the budget setting process in Blaenau Gwent. We support the WLGA view that there is still a huge amount of pressure on local authorities which has built over the past few years of austerity. There are increasing demands and pressures which mean there are tough choices to be made over finances and services in the next couple of years.

"We will shortly be speaking with local residents as part of our budget engagement programme where we will be outlining the savings that have to be made and gather their views on how we can achieve this."

But trade union Unison has called the amount of funding handed out across Wales “wholly inadequate” and claimed thousands of jobs could be lost as a result.

Speaking yesterday afternoon the union’s head of local government Dominic MacAskill said: “Today’s news is grim indeed.

“People can’t understand why their library opening hours will have to be reduced or their youth club shut down in the name of austerity.

“Communities need quality local services otherwise they cease to be healthy and liveable places.”

He added: “The lack of new money for local authorities in the announcement today will mean thousands more council jobs are lost and services at smaller councils might collapse altogether.”