Posted: Wed 21st Feb 2024

Gwent Council Proposes “Joint Lowest” Council Tax Increase in Wales /
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Feb 21st, 2024

A GWENT council is in line to agree a budget with the “joint lowest” council tax increase in Wales a meeting has been told. 
Torfaen Borough Council’s Labour cabinet has agreed to recommend its budget for the forthcoming financial year, with a 4.95 per cent increase in the council tax that will see a typical band D bill rise, by £73.13 this year, or £1.41 a week, to £1,550.57 from April. 
Cllr Sue Morgan, who is responsible for finance, said the cabinet had acknowledged concerns from a public consultation over the rise in council tax and said she was pleased suggested savings are in areas the council has already been looking at. 
The Pontnewydd councillor said: “This isn’t a council that throws money at mayoral cars or that sort of thing. 
“The increase is the joint lowest in Wales and the budget protects hard-working families struggling with a cost-of-living crisis I believe to be a Tory induced crisis.” 
The agreed proposals will now be put forward for the full council’s agreement when it meets, at the Civic Centre, Pontypool, on Tuesday, February 27, when members will be asked to approve the council tax rise, that will raise £53.4 million, and the budget that provides for £231.4 million in council spending. 
Council leader Anthony Hunt said he agreed with Cllr Morgan that a “change in macro-economic policy” at the UK level was needed as he said: “We’ve had 14 years now of cuts. If you make cut after cut you eventually reach the bone.” 
He said the budget provides funding for “key services” from adults and children’s care to schools as well as environmental services and libraries and thanked the Welsh Government for “listening and talking with” council leaders. 
The cabinet also agreed to make provision in the budget for £723,335 of redundancy and associated pension costs due to two service redesigns, intended to save £1.84 million, and using an expected £1.1 million in year underspend to meet those costs rather than using reserves. 
A revised medium term financial plan, that predicts a £35.2 million budget shortfall, through to the 2028/29 financial year was also noted by the cabinet. 
Cllr Morgan said work on addressing that will begin as the council starts preparing for next year’s budget and deputy chief executive Nigel Aurelius, said it’s hoped the predicted one per cent increase in council funding, over the next four years, “is the worst case” and any increases above that “could make a significant difference”. 
The proposed budget is expected to be approved by the full council with Labour holding all but 11 seats in the chamber. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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