Big tax hikes to beat council cuts loom for N.Wales
AVERAGE BILLS SET TO RISE BY £55-£60 A YEAR IN NORTH-WEST
RATEPAYERS in north-west Wales face hikes of around £55 a year as councils continue to feel the pinch.
Both Gwynedd and Anglesey local authorities are set to approve increases of 5% as they battle to plug financial black holes, having each been passed on cuts of 0.1% in their block grants from Cardiff Bay: aboveinflation tax rises are likely for the whole of North Wales.
A report that will be discussed by Gwynedd’s cabinet on February 13 recommends that members approve a 4.8% council tax increase from April, meaning the average “Band D” household will have to fork out an extra £59.57 a year, or £1.15 a week.
The report notes: “The key to all of this is to strike an approp- riate balance between the need to spend on services for the most vulnerable in our society, and the appropriate increase to be levied on the residents of Gwynedd.
“This year, it is recommended to increase the tax 4.8%, which would produce tax of £67.74m.
“The choice between maintaining services and taxation is always difficult, of course, and it is a matter for all members to weigh up and arrive at the balance they consider to be appropriate.”
The final decision will be made during a full council meeting on March 1.
Over the Menai Strait, meanwhile, members of the authority’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee will be asked to recommend a 5% rise for islanders, 1% of which will be ringfenced for its social services department.
Anglesey Council’s children’s services were slammed by inspectors following a visit in November, 2016, who lifted the lid on several failings in the service.
According to inspectors, services “were not always delivered by a skilled, competent, suitably qualified and experienced workforce,” with a “particular vulnerability” at team manager level.
Since then, the authority has vowed to bring the service up to scratch, with the latest CSSIW report noting that “significant progress” has been made in the meantime.
However, it also noted: “Given the significant concerns identified during the inspection, there remains substantial work for the local authority to carry out to fully implement the improvement plan and ensure that improvements are sustained. We will continue to monitor progress over the coming months with a more formal review by way of a re-inspection later in 2018.”
According to council officers, the extra 1% increase would offset increased costs faced within social services. If the full 5% is implemented, generating an extra £1.67m in revenue, it means increased bills of £54.36 a year for the average “Band D” property, or £1.05 a week.
This would still place Anglesey as the second lowest North Wales council, slightly above Wrexham.
The final decision will be made at the next full council meeting on February 28. Conwy Council has also agreed a 5% increase next year, with 4.75% in neighbouring Denbighshire: 3.9% has been approved in Wrexham, with no decision yet in Flintshire.