Posted: Tue 16th Feb 2021

Flintshire councillors approve budget containing council tax rise of £53 a year for most ratepayers

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Feb 16th, 2021

Councillors in Flintshire have approved a budget which will result in most ratepayers forking out an extra £53 a year on their council tax bill.

Residents in the county have been hit by a number of large hikes in council tax in recent years, including an increase of nearly nine per cent in 2019.

However, following a public backlash which saw a protest held outside Flintshire Council’s HQ in Mold, politicians agreed to try and limit any future uplift to below five per cent.

Councillors from across the political divide presented a mostly united front in backing the local authority’s budget for 2021/22, including a tax rise of 3.95 per cent, at a virtual meeting held this afternoon (Tuesday, 16 February).

Labour council leader Ian Roberts said the increase would be felt by councillors as well as members of the public, but welcomed the extra £3.66m included within the proposals to help school budgets.

He said: “We all pay council tax so the decisions we make today affect us as they do every other person in Flintshire County Council.

“We are all conscious that these decisions we make will affect people and we do not take these decisions lightly.

“It needs to be a balance of services against what we think is a reasonable rate of council tax.

“I will point to some of the highlights in this year’s budget and the chief executive has mentioned the investment in schools, partly to reduce secondary school deficits.

“Also, there is investment into additional learning needs at both primary and secondary level.”

The increase equates to a rise of around £1 per week for an average band D property, taking the annual total charged by the council up to £1,394.

The final amount will be close to £1,748 once the police and town and community council precepts are added on.

Around £4m is expected to be raised by the council tax increase as officials look to close a budget gap of just under £14m.

Senior councillors have repeatedly called for more money to be made available by the Welsh Government to prevent further hikes.

Cllr Glyn Banks, cabinet member for finance, said: “The WLGA (Welsh Local Government Association), of which Ian is part of, has made a detailed and compelling case for an uplift in the provisional settlements.

“Unfortunately, this does fall short which hasn’t helped us.

“We all know that changes are needed to the funding formula and we know about the disparity of the council tax rises on the lower paid, which is all mentioned in the letter.”

Cllr Richard Jones, a member of the Independent Alliance opposition group, supported the calls for ministers to be lobbied for extra funding.

He said the balance between council tax levels and government funding had changed significantly in recent years.

He said: “It’s difficult for councillors because we’re trying to represent local people and we don’t want to put any undue stress on them.

“But we do find that we’re the ones who have to find that balancing figure to find a level of council tax which is acceptable.

“The trend cannot be sustained, and the tolerance of the public has been tested.”

He added: “I think we need to challenge the Welsh Government and they need to provide a better way of doing this because, as people have said, this is a regressive tax.

“It’s unfair on everybody and not just the few.”

The majority of councillors backed the budget proposals with only one objection and one abstention.

Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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