Opposition group leaders are proposing a reduced 1.9 per cent increase to the Council Tax in the 2021/22 budget, two per cent lower than that endorsed by the Independent/Conservative Cabinet.
In a joint statement, Powys county councillors James Gibson-Watt, (Welsh Liberal Democrat – Green Group), Cllr Matthew Dorrance, (Welsh Labour Group) Cllr Jeremy Pugh (Action for Powys Group) and Cllr Elwyn Vaughan, (Leader of the Plaid Cymru Group), said: “We have put forward an alternative budget for 2021/22 which protects services and cuts the proposed Council Tax rise from 3.9 percent to just 1.9 per cent.
“The Cabinet approved plans to cut funding for the arts and cultural services, libraries, outdoor recreation, and the closure of public toilet facilities – all while increasing Council Tax by 3.9 per cent.”
“We recognise the significant financial pressure residents in Powys are experiencing because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our proposals will reduce the proposed Council Tax increase to just 1.9 per cent, reduce the travel budget for councillors, and give services and communities the protection they need to recover from the impact of the pandemic.”
To fund the just over £1.7 million gap this the drop in Council Tax would put in the 2021/22 budget they propose a series of changes to the budget:
- £960,000 from the Corporate Activities Budget
- £75,000 would be saved by deleting £5million in the capital programme allocated for loans to Registered Social Landlords.
- £500,000 would also be saved in further reducing travelling costs
- £380,000 would come from the council reserve fund.
- This would mean that savings that were to be found by the library service, countryside access, outdoor recreation, public conveniences and arts service would be protected for a year
This would allow for more work to be done to find alternative funding models.
The budget is expected to be discussed at a full council meeting on Thursday, 25 February.
Just before Christmas 2020 the Welsh Government announced a four per cent rise of just over £7.3 million in funding for Powys.
This takes the draft revenue settlement for Powys, from the Welsh Government up to £191.897 million.
Last year Powys were 14th, now they have moved up eighth out of the 22 local authorities in Wales.
With the Council Tax and grant funding added to the budget, the total figure for the 2021/22 will be £280.664 million.
By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporting Service