Senior Blaenau Gwent Councillors Support Council Tax Reform, Calling for More Progressive System
SENIOR Blaenau Gwent councillors have said they support council tax reformm claiming the current system doesn’t work for the county borough.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday, November 29, councillors took the opportunity to discuss potential reforms by the Welsh Government as they agreed the calculation to set the council tax base for next year.
Setting the base is an annual legal requirement and starts the process which will finish usually in late February or early March when the budget and council tax for the next financial year is voted on by all councillors at a full council meeting.
This year the report shows that after applying the formula the base has expanded to 20,936.36. from this year’s 20,806.70 which in turn had dipped from 20,876.86 in 2021/2022.
This means that the council will be able to collect more in council tax.
Deputy council leader Cllr Helen Cunningham said: “This is an exercise we go through every year, and I think it shows why the current council tax arrangements Wales-wide don’t really work for Blaenau Gwent.”
Cllr Cunningham pointed out the number of properties in the lowest bands of A and B in the county borough are substantially higher than the other bands – but the calculation is based on Band D.
Cllr Cunningham said: “So we have a gearing effect that we’re subject to, we don’t raise a huge amount in council tax.
“It doesn’t work for us as a council, and it doesn’t work for our residents – so for me this really underscores the need for reform and to welcome the Welsh Government’s consultation.
“They (Welsh Government) say themselves this is a system that’s 20 years out of date and it appears they want to make it more progressive which means looking to lower the share paid by those least able to contribute.
“I’m pleased to see that organisations such as the Institute for Fiscal Studies saying that reform should proceed without delay – that’s right and we should echo that.”
Council Leader, Cllr Steve Thomas said: “I agree totally, that Band D equivalent is really where it doesn’t work for us.”
He added that this would be “made plain” in the council’s response to the consultation.
Cabinet member for economy development and regeneration, Cllr John Morgan said: “We are an area of deprivation, and the system doesn’t suit us as it stands.
Cabinet members unanimously approved the report.
The council’s budget is an amalgamation of funding from the Welsh Government, council tax, and income from fees.
This year’s budget of £182 million includes £139.597 million from the Welsh Goverment and expects to raise council tax worth £38.645 million.
Just over £4 million from reserves has been predicted to be used to balance the books at the end of next March.
The base also considers potential losses in unpaid bills and assumes a 95 per cent collection rate.
Earlier this month the Welsh Government announced their intention to consult on ‘A Fairer Council Tax’.
The council tax you pay is partly based on what property was worth 20 years ago.
A property revaluation exercise was done in Wales back in 2003 which is better than the situation in England and Scotland where no revaluation of bands has happened since council tax was first implemented in 1993.
The banding corresponds with property value – the higher the band the higher the value and therefore the council tax bill.
The bill calculation is based on a Band D property which theoretical pays a full bill – while lower bands going down to “A” pay less and higher ones up to “I” pay more.
The Welsh Government say the the system is now outdated and unfair.
To take part in the consultation which is open until February 6 2024 visit https://www.gov.wales/fairer-council-tax-phase-2
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