Shropshire Star

Powys council tax increase to include hike for increased cost of fire service

Powys County Council’s Cabinet has published its "most difficult budget ever", with a proposed council tax increase of 3.8 per cent plus a further 1.2 per cent to fund the fire service.

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Council leader James Gibson-Watt

The council's Lib Dem/Labour administration said the planned budget balances the need to deliver sound services at an affordable cost and protects the most vulnerable in society, while continuing the council’s journey towards its goal of net zero carbon by 2030.

Council leader James Gibson-Watt said: “This has been the most difficult budget-setting process the county council has ever experienced. The impact of over 10 per cent inflation, the consequent need to increase staff pay to meet the cost of living crisis and a huge increase in demand for social care as a result of flu, Covid-19 and the crisis in the NHS, have combined to create an extremely difficult position.

“But after a lot of detailed work and a better-than-expected grant settlement from the Welsh Government we have been able to limit the proposed council tax increase to 3.8 per cent for council services, well below the current rate of inflation, with a further 1.2 per cent to cover the unprecedented increase in the Fire & Rescue Authority annual levy imposed on the council.”

Deputy leader Councillor Matthew Dorrance said: “As a new Cabinet we said we would be stronger, fairer and greener and this budget delivers on all of those themes.

"We have focused on protecting services such as our libraries and roads; and sustaining funding for those services that support people at this most difficult of times, while implementing measures to cut energy costs and take us closer to net zero.”

Councillor David Thomas, Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Transformation, said: “If the next UK Government sticks to the lean spending plans proposed by the current Government, future funding settlements are projected to decline, and analysts are reporting that this would almost certainly imply a return to an era of spending cuts.

“It is vital that we move the council to a position from which it can successfully meet that challenge. This budget achieves that and gives us a stable position to undertake a major review of council services to prepare them for the future.”

Councillor James Gibson-Watt added: “The economic turmoil produced by Brexit and global uncertainty means that we cannot continue with business as usual. It has been a hard task for Cabinet colleagues to balance the books for the coming year.

“We now begin the even harder challenge, working with our local communities and partner organisations, to protect future services while delivering balanced budgets in the face of a hugely unstable future.”