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Gwynedd North Wales Politics

Gwynedd approves 4.95% council tax rise but urges anyone struggling to get in touch

GWYNEDD council is to raise its council tax by 4.95% – but has pledged to help any households already struggling  in the cost of living crisis.

The latest tax increase by Cyngor Gwynedd adds up to an additional £1.45 a week or £75.59 annually for a Band D property.

The rise comes amid what has been previously described as a ‘tsunami’ of costs to the council.

It has also seen a rising demand for its services, particularly in homelessness and social services, including children’s care.

The figures were approved during a meeting of Cyngor Gwynedd’s Cabinet which today (Thursday, March 2) set a budget for the financial year 2023/24.

The council had recieved an increase of 7%, or £14.6 million, in the grant it receives from Welsh Government for 2023/24.

But, according to the council,  this “fell short” of what  it needed to maintain local services at current levels.

The council’s revenue costs have increased by £27 million since setting last year’s budget.

Members resolved to bridge the gap by implementing £5.2 million of “efficiency savings” while increasing council tax by 4.95% for 2023/24.

Councillors agreed to the recommendation to set a budget of £318 million for 2023/24, £228 million of which will come from the Government Grant and £90 million from Council Tax.

Members also agreed to establish a capital programme of £67.7 million to fund schemes such as school improvements and housing schemes over the coming 12 months.

Councillor Ioan Thomas, Cyngor Gwynedd’s Finance Cabinet member, said: “The Westminster Government’s financial decisions back in the autumn continue to send shockwaves through local government with councils across the country wrestling with inflated energy, goods and staffing costs.

“While Cyngor Gwynedd is in a stable financial position relative to most councils thanks to sound financial planning over many years, we are not immune to UK-wide economic problems and difficult decisions have had to be made.

“Whilst we have kept the increase in Council Tax to a minimum, we are very aware that any increase may cause difficulties to households which are already struggling.

“We would urge anyone who finds themselves struggling to keep up with their Council Tax payments or other bills to seek out help, there is information available on the Council website.”

Councillor Dyfrig Siencyn, Leader of Cyngor Gwynedd, added: “The cost of living crisis means that Council services are seeing a surge in demand and costs.

“We are spending £32,000 more due to an increase in the number of children being looked after by our social services and the homelessness services is costing us £6 million more than it did this time last year.

“Since the extent of the financial challenge became apparent in the autumn of 2022, additional savings of £6.4 million have been found across all Cyngor Gwynedd departments, implemented over more than one financial year,  starting from next month.

“Thankfully, we have also been able to allocate the additional income from increasing the Council Tax Premium on second homes to tackle homelessness, savings identified will have the least possible impact on frontline services.

“There may be no end in sight to the financial pressures facing Cyngor Gwynedd. All of us as members of this Council are determined to continue to protect our most vulnerable residents and key services.”

Forecasts suggest there will be further pressure as the council aims to set a balanced budget for 2024/25.

To seek help, visit www.gwynedd.llyw.cymru/CostOfLiving.