Posted: Fri 16th Feb 2024

Majority of Blaenau Gwent Residents Oppose Council Tax Increase in Budget Consultation /
This article is old - Published: Friday, Feb 16th, 2024

NEARLY two thirds of people who took part in a consultation on Blaenau Gwent draft budget proposals for 2024/2025 don’t want to see any increase in council tax.
The results of a wide-ranging consultation exercise held by Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council will be considered by councillors at the Corporate and Performance Scrutiny Meeting on Monday, February 19, alongside draft budget proposals for 2024/2025.
The consultation exercise came to an end on February 8. The council had asked residents their views on a raft of proposals for next years budget in a number of drop-in sessions across the county borough, as well as an online meeting.
The council said that all those attending the sessions were encouraged to take part in a survey.
The council said: “The intention of all of this was to get as many people as possible participating and sharing their views on prioritising council services, setting council tax, and potential saving proposals.”
“A total of 680 questionnaires were returned to the council, which equates to
around one per cent of the area’s population.
“This response rate is a drop from last year when over 3,700 responses were
“This does however fall more in-line with expected responses rates for
budget engagement processes from previous years and is the second highest
response rate for budget engagement carried out by the council.”
When it comes to council tax most respondents did not want any rise at all, with 60 per cent of respondents believing that any increase would be “not very acceptable” or “not acceptable at all”
However 20 per cent of people said they believed a rise would be “acceptable”, while five per cent said it was “very acceptable.”
When it came to agreeing on an acceptable council tax increase with options starting at five per cent and going up to eight per cent and above, 80 per cent of respondents plumped for the five per cent.
The survey asked people to pick two services that should be given priority for funding.
The top response was schools, which received 42 per cent of the support, followed by children’s social services, with 30 per cent.
When it came to choosing the two lowest priority council areas, running an efficient council was chosen by 41 per cent of respondents.
Leisure, recreation, and lifelong learning, including libraries, was also a low priority for 39 per cent of those responding.
When it came to cuts and savings proposals, people were asked to consider 25 proposals and outline how acceptable they were on a five-point scale.
Of the proposals, 22 per cent of respondents supported a two per cent budget reduction across the whole council, which would save £2 million, while 46 per cent supported a one per cent reduction, which would save £1 million.
In total 66 per cent of people though it would be acceptable or very acceptable to reduce costs of existing staffing structures and current vacant positions across the council, which would save more than £1 million.
Other responses included: ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

49 per cent agreed to a flat cash budget for individual schools – which would save £1 million;
58 per cent agreed that there should be no increase of funding to the Aneurin Leisure Trust, which is contracted to run leisure and sports facilities on behalf of the council – which would save £135,000;
50 per cent agreed to a review of operating hours and days at Household Waste and Recycling Centres, which would save up to £110,000;
50 per cent agreed that there should be a 10 per cent reduction in the contribution from Blaenau Gwent to the Education Achievement Service which is a an education company that is owned and covers and all five Gwent local authorities and is supposed to help improve schools which would save £34,000;
46 per cent agreed  that there should be a review of street lighting to make efficiencies – how much this would save has not been calculated;
46 per cent agreed to an increase in Trade Waste Service prices for businesses ranging from five to 20 per cent, which would generate an income of up to £55,000;
44 per cent agreed to increasing all discretionary fees and charges by five per cent, which would generate £100,000;
30 per cent agreed to the introduction of a fee for replacement black bins and recycling bags, which would save up to £27,000. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The report will also be presented to the cabinet at a meeting on Wednesday, February 21. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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