Audit, Inspection and Safety

07.03.19

Powys County Council backs amended budget cuts and tax hike but ‘significant risk remains’

Powys county councillors have backed a 9.5% council tax hike and approved the authority’s budget after the controversial first round of £12m of cuts were rejected last month.

Opposition groups criticised the council’s cabinet last week after a proposed budget ,including a council tax hike rise of nearly 10% and £12m of cuts, were thrown out, forcing the authority into crisis talks.

The Conservative-Independent administration was asked to go back to the drawing board, and a series of changes to the plans were drawn up following cross-party talks, which will see cuts reduced but less money placed into reserves.

The new proposals have scrapped a review threatening 10 of the county’s libraries and a plan to charge blue badge holders for parking, as well as lowering an increase in the price of school meals from 20p to 15p.

Powys council holds the “unenviable position” of holding the lowest funding settlement from the Welsh Government in nine out of the last 10 years.

Councillors held a seven-hour meeting in late February where the planned savings were criticised heavily before a narrow vote saw the budget proposals rejected.

Following the decision, the council’s Labour Group leader Matthew Dorrance claimed the cabinet was “out of touch with its citizens and our communities.”

The Lib Dem-Green group leader James Gibson also slammed the administration, stating: “We have given the leadership 18 months and they have failed to turn Powys around.

“There are key departments where hard and politically unpopular decisions have been kicked into the long grass.”

Senior officers at the council said the amended budget was “adequately robust, but significant risk remains.”

Following today’s decision, Plaid Cymru leader Elwyn Vaughan criticised the 9.5% council tax rise which will “inevitably put pressures on families who are working hard and on low incomes.”

"This will make Powys amongst the most expensive councils in Wales – and bearing in mind the low incomes in Powys this isn’t something to be proud of.”

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