Torfaen set for 3.3% tax hike to raise £1m
9:40am Wednesday 13th February 2013 in News
THE average Torfaen council tax-payer could see their tax bill increase by £32.67 a year after cabinet members approved a 3.35 per cent hike yesterday.
Meanwhile, Caerphilly council is looking at a 2.35 per cent increase, and Monmouthshire Council’s cabinet is today proposing a council tax freeze.
Torfaen’s council tax for the 2013/14 period for the average Band D property will rise from £975.21 to £1,007.88, the equivalent of around 63p a week, before the police precept and community council charges are added.
The proposed increase, which will go on to be considered by full council later this month, is 1 per cent higher than last year’s increase, which saw the average Band D cost rise from £952.82 to £975.21.
The increase in council tax is expected to bring the council £1 million.
Council tax will amount to £31.113 million – around 12 per cent of the council’s overall budget.
Torfaen’s assistant chief executive for resources, Nigel Aurelius, presented the final revenue budget proposals for 2013/14 to cabinet members, which will now be recommended to council on February 26.
He said: “This is a difficult budget for 2013/14 within a context of a difficult funding scenario for the public sector.
“There has been added pressure from some welfare reforms, which is expected to be even greater next year with the introduction of the bedroom tax.”
The report highlighted the budget is one which will protect, as far as possible, frontline jobs and services, and recognised that a fundamental review of spending and priorities will need to be carried out over the next four years to address the service and financial challenges.
Mr Aurelius told members there would be an unallocated budget of around £130,000, which he said is a lot less compared to previous years.
Executive member for resources Cllr Anthony Hunt said: “We have taken a balanced approach to this budget, which has led to a small increase in council tax.
“Anyone telling us to freeze council tax would have to identify where we would get the £1 million from, which this proposal would generate.”
Harsh words after 2.3% rise for Caerphilly area
AFTER weeks of speculation, Caerphilly council’s ruling Labour group confirmed yesterday that it will propose that council tax rises by 2.35 per cent in this year’s budget.
Council leader Harry Andrews said the rise will allow it to safeguard “services that residents rely on”, honour its pledge to scrap bulk household waste collection charges and invest an extra £100,000 in youth services provision.
While the proposal still has to be ratified by full council on February 27, Cllr Andrews said it would still be less than the average 2.83 per cent rise proposed by Welsh councils in 2013/14.
The issue has led to a number of exchanges between Labour and the opposition Plaid Cymru group over the last few weeks.
Plaid leader on the council Colin Mann pointed to the fact his party froze council tax for two years while it was in power and called for no rise.
He said the 2.35 per cent rise would add £21 to Band D household bills. Cllr Mann added: “Families and individuals are struggling to make ends meet – fuel, food and energy bills are rising and many people have seen their take-home pay frozen or reduced.”
He also said that after top council officials were recently given pay rises, it is the wrong time to add an extra burden to residents’ financial resources.
However, Labour’s deputy leader, Keith Reynolds, responded by calling Cllr Mann’s position “farcical”.
He said: “A council tax freeze in 2013/14 will reduce Caerphilly council’s income by £1.7 million.
Which council services would Plaid Cymru cut to balance the books? How many council workers would they sack?”