Posted: Tue 20th Feb 2024

Flintshire councillors hit out at Welsh Government as 9% council tax rise approved

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Feb 20th, 2024

Local politicians have approved a council tax rise of nine per cent for residents in Flintshire.

It follows councillors hitting out at central government over reductions to the local authority’s budget which have seen it lose out on £110m since 2008.

In January, Flintshire Council revealed it was facing a budget gap of £12.9m for 2024/25, with a range of cuts proposed to address the financial pressures.

However, officials said this month that figure had increased to £14.5m due to an increased demand for temporary accommodation for homeless people and out of county placements for looked after children.

As well as the council tax increase effective from April, the measures agreed to plug the gap include a budget reduction of nearly £3.3m to school budgets.

Labour council leader Ian Roberts compared the bleak financial outlook the authority is facing with that of his favourite football team Everton.

During a full council meeting held at County Hall in Mold today (Tuesday, 20 February), he said: “I know how difficult some of these decisions are going to be and the pain that they will cause.

“We’re not talking about reductions – we’re talking about big cuts in services.

“Without wishing to make light of anything, the future budgets of this council concern me even more than the future of my sporting affliction in Everton Football Club.

“At the moment it would seem that local government is in a fairly similar situation. We haven’t had points deducted – we’ve had money deducted.

“It has been a very painful time hearing this go through all the committees and realising the impact that increases have on the residents of Flintshire County Council.”

During the full council meeting, there were some last-minute changes made to the budget proposals.

It came despite the initial plans being agreed by cabinet members just hours earlier in their morning meeting.

In a surprise move, the Labour administration decided to back alternative budget proposals put forward by the independent-led opposition group.

The main change saw councillors agree to put an extra £500,000 into homelessness services, instead of putting the money into the council’s reserve funds to safeguard against future risks.
Acting independent group leader Richard Jones welcomed the support from his opponents.

However, he hit out at Labour Welsh Government ministers over the funding cuts faced by Flintshire.

He said: “I’m happy that across the chamber we seem to have some understanding of what’s necessary over the next 12 months but it’s not the budget we would want and that Flintshire residents deserve.

“Welsh Government has to shoulder some of the blame as our provisional settlement is a 2.2 per cent change from 2023/24, although it had been indicated at 3.1 per cent.

“That settlement is ranked 20 out of 22 local authorities, with half of the North Wales authorities in the bottom of the ranking, with the two at the top being Newport and Cardiff respectively.

“We don’t need any further proof of the north-south divide.”

The budget proposals, including a council tax increase of nine per cent, were approved by the majority of councillors at the end of the debate with 54 votes in favour, four against and two abstentions.

By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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