Council tax rise revealed
PEOPLE in Rhondda Cynon Taf are to be hit by a council tax increase of 3.3%, it’s been revealed, which is said to be one of the lowest in Wales.
PEOPLE in Rhondda Cynon Taff are to be hit by a council tax increase of 3.3%.
The Labour-led local authority said the rise, which will be discussed by cabinet on Thursday, is “one of the lowest in Wales”.
But the news has been met with opposition from other political groups who said council tax in the county borough is already “among the highest in Wales” and that some may struggle to afford it.
Plaid Cymru councillor Pauline Jarman, who is leader of the opposition, said: “Out of the 22 local authorities in Wales RCT is the fourth most expensive – more so than Cardiff.
“Here we currently pay £1,603.82 for a Band D property compared to Pembrokeshire at £1,127 and even Cardiff at £1,319.92 [all including the extra charge of police precepts].
“Coupled with the proposed increases in charges for meals on wheels, day centre meals, school dinners and leisure fees on top of increasing burial charges from its present level of £519 to £800 over the next two years, the 3.3% increase could find those people who are just about managing having to make difficult choices about which council services they can continue to afford.”
According to the council the budget for 2018-19, which the council tax rise is part of, will mean a saving of more than £7m “in order to help protect services”.
It’s also been subject to opposition from the council’s Conservative members.
On behalf of the group Tonteg ward councillor Lewis Hooper said: “Year in and year out residents in Labour-run Rhondda Cynon Taff have faced severe council tax hikes and this year appears to be no different.
“Even before this latest 3.3% proposed increase RCT residents were paying some of the highest bills in the whole of Wales.
“Combine this with the 7% police precept increase announced last week, there is no doubt in my mind many residents will really be feeling the squeeze.”
Council leader Andrew Morgan said the local authority recognised “the pressure on everyone’s personal finances” and said it sought to keep any increases “as low possible”.
He added: “This year’s consultation feedback has seen residents indicate that they are willing to support a small rise in council tax if it will support key services and our approach seeks to ensure we can protect valued frontline services from continued public sector austerity.
“Through the tough financial challenges which we face the council continues to be prudent in its financial management in order to deliver a balanced budget without significant cuts to services this year.
“Importantly this approach proposed would allow us to continue investing in key priorities areas which will create and deliver a strong future for Rhondda Cynon Taff.”
According to Coun Morgan the plan proposes the council extending its savings by £1m more than the “ambitious” target of £6m set earlier this year.
That will mean the council closing the budget shortfall of £3.8m for the next financial year.
Announcing the budget strategy, Coun Morgan added: “While the proposed budget secures the council’s financial position during this economically challenging time we remain committed to delivering – and further investing in – key services.
“Opportunities would continue to be taken to deliver investment in key projects.
“The proposed budget would deliver a £2m cash uplift for schools, which is double the level we have previously committed to deliver.”
RCT is not the only authority in Wales raising council tax by more than inflation.
Cardiff is planning a 5% council tax increase while Swansea is planning a 4.9% hike and Pembrokeshire a 12.5% rise.
The ruling group will formally adopt the increase at its cabinet meeting on Thursday as part of its budget plans and it will be voted on by the full council later this month.
RCT Council says its increase of 3.3% is one of the lowest rises in Wales
Plaid Cymru councillor Pauline Jarman