Budget plans which include a 3.9% increase in council tax – but no new cuts – have been backed for approval by senior councillors in Caerphilly County Borough.
The proposed increase in council tax means an extra 89p week on a band D property, or 59p on a band A house.
The increase in council tax would contribute £3 million to a £14.1m budget shortfall, with previously approved cuts making up £2m and the Welsh Government settlement the remaining £9m.
What is Caerphilly County Borough Council’s cabinet?
A council’s cabinet is made up of councillors in charge of different policy areas – such as education, environment, local economy, etc – and a leader.
It is separate to the council’s corporate management structure, which is headed up by its chief executive and various directors. Cabinet is made up of councillors, who are elected and have the ultimate say.
Typically, cabinet members are councillors from the party with the most elected council members.
Caerphilly County Borough Council’s cabinet is made up of:
- Cllr Philippa Marsden (Ynysddu) – Leader
- Cllr Sean Morgan (Nelson) – Deputy leader / Economy and enterprise
- Cllr Colin Gordon (Pontllanfraith) – Corporate services
- Cllr Eluned Stenner (New Tredegar) – Finance, performance and customer services
- Cllr Ross Whiting (Risca West) – Learning and achievement
- Cllr Shayne Cook (Morgan Jones) – Social care
- Cllr John Ridgewell (Ynysddu) – Environment and infrastructure
- Cllr Lisa Phipps (Bedwas, Trethomas, Machen) – Housing and property
- Cllr Nigel George (Risca East) – Waste and public protection
Corporate management is made up of unelected employees of the council and has responsibility for day-to-day management of services, such as making sure the bins are collected. Corporate directors work with cabinet members to come up with policy which is then agreed upon by the cabinet.
Plans to invest £526,000 to permanently fund posts for Caerphilly County Borough Council’s ‘place-shaping’ plan – which includes investment projects across the county borough – have also been included in the budget, along with an additional £368,000 from reserves.
Cllr Eluned Stenner, cabinet member for finance, told a cabinet meeting on Wednesday that Caerphilly has the second lowest band D council tax rate in Wales.
But Cllr Stenner said she was “fully aware” of the concerns raised by residents about the proposed increase, who she said were ‘struggling’ with job losses, furlough and family finances.
“I realise that this increase will be a real concern for many families in the borough,” she said.
“However I would urge those families to contact the authority and seek the help that is out there.”
The council’s Plaid Cymru and Independent groups have called for the proposal to be reconsidered.
And in a survey which had 1,006 responses, 31% of people said they would support a 4.7% increase in council tax which was the level of last year’s rise.
But 33% called for a lower increase and 30% said they did not support any increase in council tax at all.
Council leader, Cllr Philippa Marsden welcomed the news there would be no new cuts.
“It’s the first budget of many years that has no cuts,” she said.
“I can’t emphasise that enough because we have been plagued with cuts year on year.”
Cllr Ross Whiting welcomed the investment in the council’s place-shaping plans, which he said would bring “massive benefits to all corners of the county borough”.
The plans include spending £231 million on projects in the coming years – details of which Caerphilly Observer will publish tomorrow.
The budget proposals will now be considered for final approval at a full council meeting next week.