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Powys council tax increase criticised by Tory group leader 

POWYS residents face a “significant increase” in Council Tax while services are getting worse a senior councillor has said.

In response to the setting of the draft Powys County Council budget for 2024/2025 by the Liberal Democrat/Labour Cabinet at a meeting on Tuesday, January 16, Cllr Aled Davies the leader of the biggest opposition group had his say on the proposals.

Cllr Aled Davies

Conservative group leader, Cllr Aled Davies said: “The UK is in a very difficult place financially as are many Western economies.

“This is not the place to go into huge detail as we have scrutiny over the next couple of weeks to examine and fully understand the consequences of the budget.”

As part of the budget setting process each year the council prepares for its budget by modelling for a five (5) per cent Council Tax increase.

Powys finance chiefs had expected and prepared for a three (3) per cent increase in Welsh Government funding – but it was announced it would receive 2.8 per cent.

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Cllr Davies said: “We see a significant increase in Council Tax at 7.5 per cent, well above the target even though we knew what the settlement would be for this year, the last of a three year settlement.”

He also questioned whether education is a “priority” for the administration and pointed out to the numbers of schools in the county that are struggling financially.

Cllr Davies said: “It’s important we realise the (financial) pressures in schools and this will do nothing to close the gap.”

“If anything, it will increase it and there are real concerns about their budgets.”

He added that he also saw “nothing” in the budget about the transformation of council services.

Cllr Davies said: “Our population are feeling under pressure and are extremely disappointed to see the challenges in service delivery especially roads and recycling.”

Finance portfolio holder, Labour’s Cllr David Thomas said: “We didn’t get what we were expecting, it was slightly below that, and we have had to manage increasing levels of inflation over the last 12 months.

“The impacts of high inflation are not going away in a hurry, prices are still rising but at a slower pace.”

Cllr Thomas “accepted” that there were still schools with financial pressures, but said that putting extra funding into education was “no mean feat” as it had to be taken away from somewhere else in the council.