Home » Neath Port Talbot Council to increase council tax by 4.5%
Neath Port Talbot Politics South Wales

Neath Port Talbot Council to increase council tax by 4.5%

Neath Port Talbot Council

THERE was a heated debate as the final budget for Neath Port Talbot was approved after a full council meeting that took place on March 2.

The decision sees an increase in council tax of 4.5%, along with an increase in council charges of up to 5%.

Despite the current financial crisis, members of the council’s coalition, who spoke ahead of the approval, said they believed they had delivered one of the strongest budgets in Wales this year, which focused on protecting vital services and safeguarding hundreds of jobs.

Cllr Simon Knoyle, cabinet member for finance said: “Bringing the revenue budget projections back on track has been achieved even with the extraordinary set of circumstances that we are all aware of, and that have occurred since the budget was set some 12 months ago.

“The level of inflation rising from approximately 3% in March last year to today’s level at approximately 10%, the war in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis and energy price rises. Despite all of this we have been able to protect jobs and have no cuts to the services we deliver, and have also been able to find funding for investment.”

The budget which was passed by a vote of 30 members to 26, will now see a like-for-like increase in the delegated schools budget of 8% or £7.64 million, and an increase to the social services budget of 15% or £13.8 million.

The authority will also continue with plans to bring leisure services in the borough back under council control, supporting the project with £1.4 million of specific council reserves, and protecting around 400 jobs.

A further £3.5 million of the council’s general reserves will also be used to balance the budget, with the authority saying this will help them to avoid any job losses or cuts to services over the course of the year.

This will come alongside a number of cost-saving measures such as closing five council-run buildings across the borough, as well as reducing energy consumption, potentially in the form of street lighting and hybrid working.

Elsewhere in the budget,  the final levy from the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Authority was outlined, which increased by 13%, with a 5% increase to council charges such as waste disposal contracts, bulky waste collection, and cemeteries.

online casinos UK

Speaking in opposition, Labour leader for Neath Port Talbot,  Rob Jones, said he did not support the increase in council tax, and believed it went against manifesto promises made by the current coalition, with other members of the party describing the move as “hypocritical.”

While members of the opposition had drafted an amendment to the budget, proposing an increase on council tax of only 2% instead of 4.5%, this was voted against after the chief financial officer Hugh Jones, advised it was not prudent and would not recommend it for council.

Council leader Steve Hunt said: “As leader of Neath Port Talbot Council I support our cabinet member for finance, Cllr Simon Knoyle and the budget recommended at council today.

“This budget is the result of months of careful planning and consultation with county borough councillors, community members, community town councils, stake holders, unions, businesses, and the third sector.

“I want to assure all our members of council that we take our responsibilities to manage our finances carefully and seriously. We have worked hard to retain a balanced budget whilst ensuring  that we continue to provide the services our community need.

“We look forward to continuing to work together to ensure we can continue to provide and protect jobs, and deliver the best services that our communities expect. I genuinely believe that together we can build a stronger more resilient county borough council going forward, so that our communities are confident they are supported by us all.”