Coun­cil tax rise revealed

Cynon Valley - - FRONT PAGE - TOM HOUGHTON tom.houghton@waleson­

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

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