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Neath Port Talbot Politics South Wales

Council tax could increase by more than 10% in Neath Port Talbot

COUNCIL tax could increase by more than 10% next year in the borough of Neath Port Talbot, according to a report heard by council bosses.

The announcement was made at the local authority’s monthly cabinet meeting on December 20, where members gained approval to take budget proposals for 2024-25 out to public consultation.

It came just a week after cabinet members described their current financial situation, saying they faced an additional £20million in budget costs for the next year, alongside an in-year overspend of more than £3million.

Pressure areas expected for the budget in the coming years focused largely on care and social services, with new contacts for adult social services increasing from 6,259 in 2018-19 to 9,265 in 2022-23.

Homelessness is another area that was said to be experiencing increased demand with figures showing that numbers in temporary accommodation have increased from 313 in 2019-20 to 832 in 2023-24, as well as an increase in costs for home to school transport.

The report also suggested a number of saving measures which included cutting the number of council-run buildings in operation, better using technology, and even proposals for turning off or dimming of street lighting to cut energy costs.

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Other potential strategies included a general uplift of 7.5% to fees and charges, as well as reducing energy consumption in other council-run buildings.

There could also be an increase in council tax by as much as 10% for householders in the area, which officers say could help the council raise an additional £6,770,000 towards its services.

The report read: “There is also a need to raise council tax to fund the increased costs and pressure of general council services. If there is no additional funding from the Welsh Government in the provisional local government settlement council tax could increase by approximately 10% to close the current budget gap.”

However, there were warnings that this could eventually go even higher, up to as much as 11%, after the Welsh Government published its budget for 2024-25, with the announcement expected to worsen the position outlined in the report.

Chief executive of Neath Port Talbot Council Karen Jones said: “We face yet another very challenging budget position when we’re looking at 2024-25. You’ll see that we’ve done quite an extensive exercise that’s taken the most of the year actually, to look at opportunities for increasing income and reducing expenditure across the council, whist seeking to limit the impact on jobs and services.”

She added that there would now be a special budget cabinet meeting scheduled for January to analyse the Welsh Government’s latest announcement, as well as the impact it could have. The public consultations in Neath Port Talbot will run until January 10.

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