News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Flintshire could face a council tax hike of up to 15%

Residents in Flintshire could face a council tax hike of up to 15 per cent or lose frontline services unless the Welsh Government improves funding.

It comes as Flintshire Council is looking at a blackhole of more than £15 million next year after it was one of the worst hit by budget cuts from Cardiff.

The local authority has already earmarked millions of pounds worth of savings, but is still anticipating a gap of £6.7m once those are actioned.

In a bid to ease the burden on council taxpayers, it is planning to launch a social media campaign called #BackTheAsk to lobby ministers for an extra £5.6m.

Leading figures says the Welsh Government is holding back a number of large sums, including £15m for schools and £30m for social care, which it wants to be given directly to all Welsh councils.

However, chief executive Colin Everett warned that even with the additional amount, council tax is still likely to increase by around seven per cent.

Speaking at a corporate resources scrutiny committee meeting today, he said: “All committees have agreed there is no room for further reductions in their portfolios next year.

“It shifts the options over to Welsh Government funding and council tax – there are no other options on the table.

“The local government settlement is grossly inadequate, full stop.”

Mr Everett said: “On Tuesday we will be officially launching the hashtag #BackTheAsk and this is our campaign position.

“It is not party political. It is to ask for the extra funding to be paid out for the purposes it was given.”

In late October the council held two meetings which were attended by more than 230 staff.

In total 96 of them said they were ‘very concerned’ that they were under stress because of the pressure facing services, while 108 said it was becoming an issue.

The majority also said they felt austerity measures should be brought to an end.

Council leader Aaron Shotton (Lab) said he believed the amount being requested was achievable.

“All of these are realistic and they are doable,” he said.

“There’s a strong voice that’s united across local government and it is getting its voice heard, but it will be about decision made around the cabinet table in the Senedd.

“There is potential as well in terms of capital.

“It’s fair to say Welsh Government is awash with capital and there is the potential for a discussion of how that capital alleviates our budget pressures.

“There will be further meetings next week, I’ll be party to those and we’ll be reporting back on what we hope is a positive shift on the final settlement.”

Committee members voted in favour of backing the campaign, which will be launched on the same day as the authority’s cabinet and full council meetings are held.

The date is also exactly a month before the Welsh Government announces the final settlement for local government.

By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter

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