Latest Public Sector News

13.02.19

Powys County Council moves forward with £12m cuts and 9.5% tax increase

County council leaders have backed a 9.5% council tax hike in Powys as the authority passed £12m of cuts – but the council stressed that frontline services, schools, and social services have been protected.

Powys County Council said office staff are to be cut, buildings sold, and tax will be hiked up by nearly 10% - a rise of over £100 a year – and could yet still rise.

The council’s cabinet have approved the cuts ahead of a full council meeting next week. Stephen Hayes, cabinet member for adult services, said the council was heading into “uncharted waters.”

Savings of £3.3m will come from reductions and reorganisation in management and the rest of its workforce, with £1m set to be saved by cutting the number of senior officers.

Hayes said it was “very difficult to communicate just how little room for manoeuvre there is for drawing up a budget of this sort.”

The council has been in the “unenviable position” of holding the poorest settlement in Wales in nine out of the last 10 years, and cabinet member for finance and the authority’s deputy leader Aled Davies said this has left the council is a difficult financial position.

“This year's budget has been the hardest faced by the council when seeking to balance service provision with resident's ability to pay.”

The tax hike, an equivalent of £9.41 extra a month for the average Band D council tax bill, does not include charges from the Dyfed Powys Police or from community or town councils.

Davies said: “We know the increase will be a challenge for some, but it is the minimum we could recommend to protect vital services.”

Acting chief executive of the council Mohammed Mehmet said the “risks were high” and would need to be monitored carefully, but pointed out that measures proposed for Powys were “not very different to our neighbours and other parts of Wales.”

Mehmet added that the operating structure of the council had changed, which could have knock-on effects elsewhere, but key services such as school services and social care remain protected.

 Image credit - Jaggery 

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