Powys council tax set to rise by almost 10 per cent
Average taxpayers in Powys will have see their council tax bills rise by more than £100 a year as the council looks to protect valuable services and make £11 million of savings.
The tax hike has been revealed ahead of next week's Powys County Council cabinet meeting, with cabinet member for finance Aled Davies recommending the rise of 9.5 per cent.
For an average band D property, that will add around £9.41p a month to the bill, which equates to a rise of £112 over 12 months, and that is before the police and town and community council precepts.
Councillor Davies has said pressure on services is greater than ever, and it is the one of the hardest budget's the authority has had to set.
He said: "The council has been in the unenviable position of having the poorest settlement in Wales in nine out of the last 10 years, leaving the council in a difficult financial position.
"We have to fund key services and ensure we support children in need and vulnerable adults, whether in their own homes or in our care, and we have to invest in education.
“With schools and social care dominating our budget, the pressure on remaining services is greater than ever. This year’s budget has been the hardest faced by the council when seeking to balance service provision with resident’s ability to pay.
“Throughout the process our priority has been to maximise efficiencies, reducing our running costs where possible, this will mean a reduction in staff in many areas and pressure on others to reduce the level of provision.
“We know the increase will be a challenge for some but it is the minimum we could recommend to protect vital services."
In total over the coming year the council needs to save £11.74 million to balance the budget. The report will go before the authority's cabinet on Tuesday.
Councillors have said they will find it hard to vote the hefty rise through.
Newtown councillor Joy Jones said some residents just don't know how they will afford the rise.
She said: "The council tax goes up and the majority of people haven't had a pay rise for many years so when this is increased year in year out it is having a real effect on people's standard of living.
"I have been told by so many residents that they really don't know how they will afford to pay.
"The cost of living is becoming unmanageable and is putting people at risk of being in poverty. People are so fed up of paying more for less services and are feeling they no long get value for their money."
Welshpool County Councillor Phil Pritchard said he isn't happy with a steep rise, but will vote for it if no alternative comes forward.
Fellow Welshpool councillor Graham Breeze also said spiralling costs of providing services, and failings of the previous council regime have led to this.
He added: "I for one will need some convincing that there are absolutely no options left before supporting an increase of 9.5 per cent
"All county councils across Wales are proposing hefty increases, mainly to support the essential services such as care and education.
"On top of spiralling costs the current council is being forced to deal with the failings of the previous regime. A huge transformation programme is already underway with the departure of several senior officers and over 100 jobs being shed in total.
"What really concerns me is the amount of political posturing taking place at county hall, particularly when meetings are being web cast.
"We have to remember that as councillors we have a duty to present a balanced budget - so voting against the proposal should only be done if a suitable alternative is on the table and not for political reasons."