Council tax hiked as cuts warnings issued in Powys

By Elgan Hearn   |   Local democracy reporter   |
Saturday 29th January 2022 2:55 pm
Powys Council finance cabinet member Cllr Aled Davies has proposed a 3.9 per cent council tax rise and warned of cuts

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POWYS County Council has warned that £7.7m in savings, cuts and “income generation” need to be made if to balance the budget by the end of March 2023 as the authority announces a 3.9 per cent in council tax - a hike that “could have been worse”.

At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, 18 January, councillors were told the budget details for 2022/23.

With the council expected to receive an extra £18.3 million from the Welsh Government in their financial settlement to local authorities, the budget will go up from this year’s £279.783 million to £302.323 million.

Council tax makes up 30 per cent of Powys’ funding, and finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies explained that the 3.9 per cent rise equates to an extra £3.45 million for the council and that future financial settlements from the Welsh Government are likely to fall back.

Cllr Davies said: “I must highlight that this budget delivers a £5 million additional investment in education, an additional £2.2 million for Highways Transport and Recycling, and a massive £9.2 million for our Social Services.

“There’s an additional £22.5 million invested in our crucial services in this budget.

“It’s a significant investment and must not be forgotten.”

A total of 62 proposals for savings, cuts and creating income are proposed from across the council departments for next year.

Some will feature in future budgets up to 2026/27.

From the list of reductions, 22 proposals with the intention of saving over £5.5million for Social Services have now been agreed in draft.

Amongst the sums, are proposals that Children’s Services save £1.5million from by bring child placements “closer to home.”

If this is done another £10,000 would be saved in staff travelling expenses.

“Converting” five agency staff into council social workers would save £150,000.

Arts and Culture Services will see a £63,000 cut to their budget.

A review of council car parking fees will also take place.

The department hope the hope they can increase income from car parks by £50,000 in 2022/23 and another £50,000 in 2023/24.

Head of finance, Jane Thomas said: “The risks facing the council this year are more acute as we continue to manage our services and support our residents through the pandemic.

“Demand for our services is increasing and the additional burden of rising inflation and energy costs increases the risks of our own financial planning.”

Council leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris said: “There has been a huge amount of debate behind today.

“It’s important to remember we had 10 years when we pretty much had the lowest financial settlement throughout the whole of Wales.”

The budget will be set on 3 March.

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