Council tax bills could go up by as much as 10% in some parts of Wales

  • Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Leader Andrew Morgan spoke to ITV News

Residents across Wales will "inevitably' face a hike in their council tax bills next year with some areas seeing them go up by as much as "10%" according to one South Wales council leader.

His comments come after the Welsh Government today published the provisional local government settlement. Local authority funding will rise by 3.1% to £5.5bn, but what each council gets varies.

Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Leader, Andrew Morgan says it's a "dire" situation. His local authority alone is facing a £35m shortfall based on the settlement it is receiving.

He told ITV Wales: "If we were to put up council tax to cover the shortfall you would be looking at a rise of between 30 and 35% so that is just not affordable. It's not practical."

Councillor Morgan admits "tough decisions are going to have to be made" - with "services being reduced" and a "freeze on staff". He says the whole situation is hugely "frustrating".

Mindful of the pressures being faced by families across Wales, he says a council tax increase is "inevitable", but expects it to be between 4-5%.

He said: "It may only be a pound or £1.50 a week additional but of course when everything else is going up, food is going up and utilities we fully appreciate, no one comes into politics to try and charge people more for doing less. That's just bonkers.

"I was asked this morning do I feel frustrated. I feel massively frustrated", he added.

"As a former council employee and someone who has been a councillor now since 2004 that we are seeing services every year having to be reduced or changed in a way to save money when the demand out there from the public, especially at a time when we have a cost of living crisis the demand is increasing because, in lots of communities, they need more support not less.

"If you put it in context a 3.1% rise in funding while it is welcomed it does leave us a long way short of what we need.

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Councillor Morgan continued: "We need hundreds of millions of funding, we are seeing massive increases in social care, children's social care but also adult social care. The amount of demand for services across all local authorities is spiralling at a time when we've got inflation.

"It is fair to say council tax will go up in every local authority. It's not something that anyone wants to do. It is not a popular thing to have to do."

Finance Minister Rebecca Evans says the Welsh Government has "re-shaped" its spending plans so it "can protect the core, frontline public services provided by local authorities like schools and social care."

She also admitted that "the overall funding settlement won't be sufficient to meet all pressures."

The local government budget allocation is long overdue review according to the Welsh Conservatives Shadow Local Government Minister, Sam Rowlands MS. He said: “The hardships facing local government due to Labour and Plaid Cymru’s draft budget does nothing more than put the onus on councils to fill the financial hole themselves.

"Council tax increases of between 5% and 10% during an already difficult time for families is unacceptable and will leave households struggling even more in the new year.

“The local funding formula is long overdue a review, with some councils sitting on hundreds of millions of pounds in usable reserves and others struggling to make ends meet, it is unfair."

Newport and Cardiff will see the biggest increases with a 4.7% and 4.1% budget increase respectively. Conwy and Gwynedd have seen the smallest increase in their funding, with their budget being boosted by 2%.

The disparity between North and South is something Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for North Wales, Darren Millar MS described as a "shameful partiality," by the Welsh Government.

He said: “The Labour Government has, yet again, given North Wales a rough deal with lower council funding settlements than local authorities in South Wales.  

"Cardiff, Newport and Swansea are getting more than twice the increase in funding of most North Wales councils, nearly all of which sit at the bottom of the funding league table.

“Labour Ministers should ditch their shameful partiality, commission an independent review of the council funding formula and invest millions more in our public services instead of pet projects like increasing the number of politicians in Cardiff Bay."

"We need hundreds of millions of funding, we are seeing massive increases in social care", said the council leader. Credit: ITV Wales

The Welsh Government have today published the provisional local government settlement, a day after it published its draft budget showing cuts to every sector except for health.

Peredur Owen Griffiths MS, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for Local Government and Finance said the budget was “unsustainable” due to the unfair funding deal given to Wales by London “compounded” by the financial mismanagement of the Labour Government in Wales.

He said: “Despite the modest increase in funding, this has been a tough budget for local authorities across Wales.

“Due to the ineptitude and callousness of the Tories in Westminster – which has been compounded by the financial mismanagement of the Labour Government in Wales - councils are being asked to do more with less.

“This is why Plaid Cymru called this an unsustainable budget. Frontline services are going to come under incredible pressure and local authorities will be faced with the unenviable task of deciding which essential service to jettison.”

The UK Government said: "The Welsh Government bears ultimate responsibility for the decisions that it makes on spending.

"It can choose where to allocate its resources in devolved areas as it sees fit, and it is accountable to the Senedd and the people of Wales for those choices. This is an important principle of devolution."

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