Posted: Sat 2nd Mar 2024

Monmouthshire County Council Approves Budget Increase, Typical Council Tax Bill to Surpass £2,000

news.wales / newyddion.cymru

A BUDGET that will see the typical band D council tax bill pass the £2,000 mark has been agreed. 
Monmouthshire County Council was told the £220 million budget, put forward by the Labour-led cabinet includes a 3.8 per cent increase for education and a further £4 million for adult social care, but with £8.4 million in cuts and savings. 
The 7.8 per cent council tax increase means a band D home has to pay an extra £122.04 for council services, but when the £349.52 Gwent Police precept is added it means band D bills hitting doormats in April will demand at least £2,036.22. 
That figure will only increase when town and community council precepts are added which, for band D homes, range from £1,807.90 in Usk to £1,703.62 in Llanarth. 
Cllr Ben Callard, the cabinet member for finance, told the meeting at County Hall in Usk: “Our costs continue to rise faster than our funding but we have consulted extensively and reached more people than ever before and achieved this administration’s aim of making sure the voice of the people of Monmouthshire is heard.” 
But that was disputed by Conservative opposition leader Cllr Richard John who said 75 per cent of residents who’d responded to the consultation hadn’t agreed with the original proposal to raise council tax by 7.5 per cent. 
“It’s now 7.8 per cent, what is the point in consultation?” asked Cllr John who criticised the process and engagement with people under 25. 
The cabinet revised its budget plans last week when it agreed it would provide a further £800,000 for schools meaning staff pay rises will now be fully funded as well as borrowing a further £57,000 to support a £1.65 million programme to repair roads and bridges. 
It also announced the revised council tax which meant the original proposal for a band D bill to rise by £117.35 will now increase to £122.04. 
Cllr John dismissed the budget as a “really lazy mix of salami slicing and putting up the council tax” and also criticised the early evening closing times for leisure centres and withdrawal of funding for the Gwent Music Service. 
His Conservative colleague Paul Pavia said the budget included £2.6 million of cuts to adult social care and £1.3 million from children’s care, but there was little detail and he said the council couldn’t be certain the Welsh Government would raise the £100 adult home care cap by £20. 
Cllr Pavia said: “As councillors we haven’t seen this plan as yet it’s a significant level of trust the administration is asking from us to pass these proposals with the level of savings we’ve not seen the full impact of.” 
Independent Group leader Frances Taylor also criticised the consultation as an in person event, which was cancelled, was due to be held at County Hall and said of 206 stakeholders who’d taken part many were headteachers and school governors as well as staff. 
She said: “That is not a public event. You need to find some way to reach out to the public.” 
Cllr Taylor also questioned the council’s continued use of its useable reserves, in the current financial year, which she said meant it didn’t have an additional fund that could support it this year. 
Labour councillor Laura Wright hit out at opposition councillors and said: “Isn’t it easy to just come in the chamber and just criticise. If you think you could do better where are your amendments and alternatives?” 
The budget was passed with the 24 combined votes of the Labour group, the single Green Party councillor who sits in the cabinet and council chairman Meirion Howells who is an independent/Green against the 21 votes of the Conservative and most independent councillors. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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