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Cyngor Gwynedd 9.54% increase in Council Tax

CYNGOR Gwynedd has set a budget for the 2024/25 financial year that reflects the authority’s commitment to protecting schools and services for vulnerable children and families, despite the dire financial situation facing public services across Wales.

The Council forecasts that the costs of maintaining services for next year will have risen by around £22.7 million, but that the funding the Council will receive from the Welsh Government will only increase by £5.1 million.

Cyngor Gwynedd has a statutory responsibility to set a balanced budget, and at a meeting of the Full Council on 7 March, members agreed on a plan to plug the funding gap through a combination of savings, cuts to services and by increasing the Council Tax.

Councillors agreed to implement a series of efficiencies, £5.3 million-worth of service cuts and a , which includes the Fire and Rescue Service levy. For a Band D property, the Council Tax increase equates to an extra £2.82 per week, or £152.89 annually.

Councillor Ioan Thomas, Cyngor Gwynedd’s Finance Cabinet Member, said: “I can say with hand on heart that none of my fellow members were comfortable making these difficult decisions. But the reality of the situation is that we’ve been backed into a corner by a combination of factors and the only option now is to spend less on certain services and to increase the tax.

“Everyone’s day-to-day costs have risen dramatically over the last few years and the same goes for us as a Council. Things like energy, insurance, raw materials and wages are much more expensive today compared to this time last year.

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“At the same time, unfortunately, we are seeing greater demand than ever for our services. Referrals to Gwynedd’s children’s social services have increased by more than 2,500 compared to pre-Covid times; there are more than 2,000 extra referrals to the Council’s mental health services over the same period and our spending on homeless services has doubled since 2021/22.

“While the grant Gwynedd receives from the Welsh Government has increased by 2.3% this year, the reality is that the average increase across the 22 Welsh councils is 3.3%. We are one of two Welsh councils to receive the lowest sum as our population has fallen more than any other authority in the country.

“We have no option but to balance our books despite the fact that the money we receive from the Government is nowhere near enough to keep up with our spiralling costs.”

Despite the challenging situation, Cyngor Gwynedd is committed to shielding education and social services for children and families from any cuts.

Leader of Cyngor Gwynedd, Councillor Dyfrig Siencyn, added: “Thanks to sound financial planning over the years, Cyngor Gwynedd is in a stable financial position compared to many other councils. Nevertheless, we are not immune to the economic and social problems that are impacting public services across the UK and difficult decisions have had to been taken.

“We are also very concerned that the financial forecasts looks bleak for the next two years. Because of this we are continuing to call on the Westminster Government to recognise the crisis in local government and to fund services fairly.

“Although we have made every effort to keep the Council Tax increase to a minimum, we are acutely aware that these increases could make life even more difficult for those who are already struggling.

“We would encourage anyone finding it difficult to keep up with their Council Tax payments or other bills to seek help, and there is information about the support available on the Council’s website www.gwynedd.llyw.cymru/costoflivingcrisis.”