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Fears raised 5% council tax hike could push Powys residents into poverty

FEARS have been raised that the five per cent council tax hike will push Powys residents into poverty.

At a meeting of Powys County Council, on Thursday, February 23, councillors met to set the budget for 2023/2024.

It is estimated that the council will need £326 million to run its services in 2023/2024.

The council set to receive an 8.7 per cent increase in funding from the Welsh Government  for the 2023-2024 financial year.

This equates to an increase of just under £18.3million and will see the council’s funding from the Welsh Government rise £228.388 million.

The remainder to get to the total of £326million will come from Council Tax, grants and fees.

Despite the increases the council still needs to make around £16.4 million in cuts savings and efficiencies next year.

Cllr Joy Jones is the Powys anti-poverty champion raised concerns that five per cent increase in Council Tax would tip many people over the financial edge.

Cllr Jones said: “I understand the council needs to pay for services but I would like to remind you how people are suffering with all the increases in fuel, energy and food prices that are affecting them.

Cllr Joy Jones

“People are suffering and we’re seeing full and overloaded foodbanks.

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“I know that some of my residents are entitled to help to pay for their Council Tax.

“But there are so many working families who are just above the limit and will be pushed into poverty by the time they have paid Council Tax.

“This is so concerning to see how poverty is becoming a blight to our society.”

“I need to make this point clear – everything we do does affect our residents.”

Deputy council leader Cllr Matthew Dorrance said: “This budget does address the concerns you have.

“It’s not like its predecessors that increased charges and cut services, this budget brings forward investment for key services such as education and social care and we’ll be building more council houses.”

Cllr Matthew Dorrance

He pointed out that there is £13million in the budget’s capital plan for next year to build and buy new homes for the housing stock.

Cllr Dorrance said: “That’s a huge step forward and one we should be proud of.”

“The council is rolling out universal free school meals to support children, young people and families.

He went onto list several other initiatives such as: warm spaces network, the child poverty task force which includes Cllr Jones, cost of living advices service and a £1 million discretionary fund to help people with the cost of living crisis.

Cllr Dorrance said: “We’re sending money out from county hall to help those dealing with the impact with the cost of living crisis and the growing scourge of poverty in our communities.

“This budget aligns our resources and all of our might to deal with challenges that you so eloquently outlined.”

The budget for next year, including the five per cent rise was approved, with 41 councillors voting in favour, 18 against and two abstentions.

This means that  and average Band D council tax bill in Powys will increase from  £1,451.86 to £1,524.45.

Earlier this year  Dyfed-Powys Police approved a precept increase of 7.75 which is an extra £22.49 for a Band D property.

Town and community council precepts will be added to the bill.