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Council warns of 28% rise in council tax or mass job cuts needed to deliver services

Pembrokeshire is facing the prospect of a 28% rise in council tax or extensive job cuts to meet services after several warnings about the county council’s “grim” financial situation.

Finance director Jon Haswell said the council, based on current predictions, would need council tax to rise by 28% unless services were cut following a 0.4% cut in Welsh Government funding.

The authority has published its improvement review of 2017-2018. During an audit committee meeting, Cllr Jacob Williams asked the cabinet member for finance if the council had a plan for “mass redundancies,” according to the BBC’s Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Pembrokeshire CC has its medium-term financial plan at the highest level possible on its corporate risk register, sitting at ‘red 16.’

The finance cabinet member, Bob Kilmister, responded by saying that he could not answer with “any clarity” until council officers gave their assessment of service priorities, but admitted the council did not have a “clear, costed plan at the moment” for service cuts.

He said: “There's no way we can meet the budget requirement we have got without affecting the number of people we employ.

“What I can say is the status quo is not an option.

“We are going to have to balance the budget, which we will do. Does that mean that there will be impacts on employment? Yes, there definitely will be.”

Back in March, Pembrokeshire CC raised their council tax by 12.5% as it aimed to tackle a £16m funding gap.

Despite this being the first double-digit increase in council tax in Wales since 2004, the council tax is still the lowest in Wales.

Every council in Scotland and Wales has committed to raising taxes, with Pembrokeshire’s 12.5% hike making them the final council to do so.

Responding to the improvement review, the council’s leader David Simpson said: “We balanced the budget in 2017-18, but as we look forward to future years, it is clear that the size of the financial challenge we face is growing.

“Whilst our transformation programme will play its part in making savings, it is clear that we as a council face some very hard choices.”

He said that 2017-18 was the year that the county council started a process of “significant change.”

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Image credit - Tamas Gabor


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