A PLAN to increase council tax bills by 6.9% in Caerphilly has been condemned as “well above the rate of inflation”.
Colin Mann, Plaid Cymru’s finance spokesman, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) he believed Caerphilly Council’s budget proposals meant people were left questioning “what they get for their ever-increasing bills”.
The council has proposed the 6.9% council tax hike, along with a series of savings worth £30 million and the use of £11m of its reserves.
It argues it needs to balance the books against a predicted shortfall of £46m over the next two years.
But Cllr Mann said the council tax proposal was “well above the rate of inflation and completely unaffordable for tens of thousands of residents of the borough”.
“Coupled with the continuous cutting of services – many on the frontline – residents are asking me what they get for their ever-increasing bills,” he said. “We only have to look at the ever-increasing numbers forced to go to food banks to realise how bad the situation is.”
Cllr Mann suggested the local authority should “do further work on running the organisation more efficiently”.
“There always seems to be money for paying senior officers regardless of the oft-repeated message of having to save millions of pounds,” he said.
“Even with the proposed take of over £11 million there is still a huge amount of money in council reserves. There could be potential for a bigger sum from reserves.”
Cllr Mann said Caerphilly’s Plaid group would “be going through the detail of the report and looking for ways to reduce the proposed increase”.
“Whether the Labour cabinet will take any notice remains to be seen, of course,” he added.
Responding to Cllr Mann’s comments, a Caerphilly Labour group spokesman told the LDRS: “Residents in Caerphilly pay the lowest council tax in Wales, with bills for a Band D property in Caerphilly nearly £500 a year less than some of our neighbouring authorities”.
“We have kept council tax in Caerphilly the lowest in Wales, whilst also ensuring we protect our key public services during these very challenging economic times,” the spokesman added. “We encourage residents to take part in the consultation when it goes live on January 17.”