TORFAEN council’s leader has warned that freezing council tax would result in a “large number of job losses” and even more severe spending cuts.

The warning came as Torfaen council’s cabinet agreed to approve initial budget plans, based on a council tax rise of 5.95 per cent, at a meeting on Tuesday.

Council leader, Cllr Anthony Hunt, warned that any alternative to raising council tax could have a severe impact on services.

“Getting that balance right between savings and cuts is vital,” he said.

“Those who would call for a council tax freeze however would have to explain how they are going to save nearly £2.5million more on top of the savings we have already made.

“My view is that a council tax freeze in the current conditions would lead to a large number of job losses in areas like social care and education.

“That is just not acceptable in terms of running a safe and positive service going forward.”

The budget is being planned based on a funding gap of around £8.5million – the difference between money available to the authority and the cash needed to run core services next year.

A final Welsh Government settlement provided the council with an additional £584,000, with its final allocation up £736,000, or 0.6 per cent, on last year.

Nigel Aurelius, assistant chief executive of resources at the council, welcomed the extra cash but said it remained a “challenging settlement.”

Other savings proposed could include reducing the subsidy level to Cwmbran Farm, potentially saving around £200,000.

Implementing a decision for residents to sort their rubbish at the recycling centre, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill, could also save £80,000.

Reducing funding to Blaenavon Workmen’s Hall has also been proposed.

But the council will consider a recommendation, from the cross-cutting resources and business overview and scrutiny committee, to stagger the reduction over eight years rather than the planned five.

Some protection has been offered to areas of social care and education in the proposals, while “cleaning and greening” services – one of the council’s identified priorities – will not face cuts.

Cllr Hunt added that some “tough choices” will have to be made as part of the final budget proposals which will be made next month. “We really do need an end to austerity,” he added.

“There is no future for public services as we know them if austerity continues into a 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th year.

“Services as we know them will start to disintegrate.”