News | Emily Gill - Local Democracy Reporting Service | Published: 13:24, Thursday November 7th, 2019.
Last updated: 14:31, Tuesday November 19th, 2019
Council tax could rise by nearly 7% and schools’ budgets slashed by £2 million as Caerphilly council announce savings of more than £8 million in its draft budget.
Caerphilly County Borough Council’s cabinet will consider a package of cuts totalling £8.485 million for the next financial year in its meeting on Wednesday, November 13.
The budget proposals include an increase in council tax by 6.95%, which will be in addition to the proposed budget cuts for 2020-21.
The council say the cuts and council tax increase are necessary to provide a balanced budget.
An increase in teachers pay and pension contributions has led to increase schools cost pressures of £5.648 million.
Cuts of 2% in the budgets that are dedicated to schools are proposed. This totals £2.112 million. Of this, it is proposed that £2 million will come from cuts to the Individual Schools Budget.
The remaining £6.373 million will be applied to general fund budgets. Across all other services this will be an average of 2.7%.
Leader of the council, Cllr Barbara Jones, said: “Unfortunately we need to deliver a package of savings totalling over £8.5 million for the forthcoming year in order to deliver a balanced budget.
“This is in addition to the £103 million that has already been taken out of our budgets since 2008.”
“This has not been an easy task, but thanks to our effective budget management and prudent approach we have been able to protect the public from deep cuts and major disruption to frontline services.”
Plaid Cymru group leader, Cllr Colin Mann, said: “If Labour pushes this through, council tax will have risen by almost 14% in two years.
“How many people have had wage rises anywhere near these figures?
“More and more people are having to rely on food banks because they are on the breadline. What are they to do to meet these bills?”
Cllr Mann added: “Back last year there was talk of annual rises in council tax of 4.52% every year through to 2022-23, but they are now hiking them even these above inflation increases by 50%.
“So, residents are once again being asked to pay a lot more for worse services. Labour found plenty of money to deal with the senior officers’ pay scandal and now they want council taxpayers to meet the bill for their incompetence.”
Funding from the Welsh Government for the teacher’s pension scheme will help to balance the budget.
The scheme, which the draft report says will cost £4.173 million, was not included in the Final Local Government Financial Settlement for 2019-20.
However, the report says that it is expects Welsh Government to fully fund the pensions scheme in 2020-21 and for subsequent financial years.
Following a cabinet decision on the budget proposals, an eight-week period of public consultation will take place.
If the budget is agreed upon, it will be presented to cabinet on February 2 and full council on February 20.