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Cabinet approves council tax rise of 3.9%

Created on 18/01/2022 @ 18:23

A 3.9 per cent rise in council tax has been agreed by Powys County Council’s cabinet – but it could be worse, as councillors pointed out the increase could have been five per cent.

At the cabinet meeting today (Tuesday) finance portfolio holder Cllr Aled Davies took his colleagues through the budget details for 2022/23.

With the council expected to receive an extra £18.3 million from the Welsh Government in their financial settlement to local authorities, the budget will go up from this year’s £279.783 million to £302.323 million.

Council tax makes up 30 per cent of Powys’ funding.

Cllr Davies explained that the 3.9 per cent rise equates to an extra £3.45 million for the council and that future financial settlements from the Welsh Government are likely to fall back.

Cllr Davies said: “I must highlight that this budget delivers a £5 million additional investment in education, an additional £2.2 million for Highways Transport and Recycling, and a massive £9.2 million for our Social Services.

“There’s an additional £22.5 million invested in our crucial services in this budget.”

“It’s a significant investment and must not be forgotten.”

He added that the worth of the council workforce had been seen during the last couple of years in the pandemic and their work keeping Powys communities safe, had been “quite phenomenal.”

Cllr Davies said: “The level of council tax proposed has been carefully considered and we have been able to reduce the requirement down from the five per cent proposed in the Medium-Term Financial Strategy approved by the council last March (2021).”

Cllr Davies explained this was needed to deal with cost pressures and provide the “appropriate” level of services needed by residents and the “most vulnerable in our communities.”

Head of finance and 151 officer, Jane Thomas said: “The process of challenge and review provides assurance on completeness and robustness of the estimates whilst also highlighting the risk associated in its deliverability.

“The risks facing the council this year are more acute as we continue to manage our services and support our residents through the pandemic.

“Demand for our services is increasing and the additional burden of rising inflation and energy costs increases the risks of our own financial planning.”

She explained that the level of reserves would be increased by and extra four per cent to deal with all “known and unknown” risks.

If this needs to be used to cover departmental overspending, Ms Thomas stressed it would need to be “replenished” for future financial resilience.

Due to all these elements “into account” Ms Thomas concluded the budget estimates “are robust” but a level of risk “remains.”

Council leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris said: “There has been a huge amount of debate behind today.

“It’s important to remember we had 10 years when we pretty much had the lowest financial settlement throughout the whole of Wales.”

The cabinet unanimously approved the draft budget.

During the next few weeks scrutiny committees will get to look and comment on the budget before it goes on to be debated and voted upon at a council meeting on February 24.

Following that vote, the budget will be formally set at a meeting on March 3.

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