Above average council tax rise given go-ahead
COUNCIL tax in Neath Port Talbot is going up by more than the Welsh average.
A rise of 3.87 per cent was agreed by councillors, but the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) said the average in Wales was 2.9 per cent.
Swansea and Carmarthen- shire Councils are also higher.
In Neath Port Talbot the new budget means Band D council tax payers will see their bills go up to £1,256, an increase of just under 3.9 per cent.
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The authority has pointed out that as the vast majority of residents are on lower bands they will see an increase of less than 12p a day.
Deputy leader Peter Rees said: "We have fought hard as a cabinet to keep it as low as we could.
"We have been trying to protect front line services and jobs. It is getting more and more difficult,'' he said.
"I think we have struck a balance between protecting services and jobs with the pressures we have got with children's services and older people services."
Neath Port Talbot Council is currently facing a £21 million budget shortfall over the next five years. In Swansea the council tax hike, which kicks in next month, will bring in an extra £3 million revenue for a local authority which is looking fill a multi-million pound black hole.
Last year the increase was set at nought per cent by the then Lib Dem-Independent ruling coalition, something the current Labour Council has branded an "election tactic''.
Residents in Carmarthenshire will face a three per cent increase.
The WLGA has praised the national average rise across Wales, saying that Welsh households are still paying £200 a year on average less than their English counterparts, despite the percentage differences.
Monmouth shire and Cardiff councils have frozen the rate.
On top of the council tax rise is a 7 per cent increase in the South Wales Police precept.
WLGA Leader, Bob Wellington added: "Councils provide the services which support our communities and businesses in order to build a vibrant economy.
"They are responsible for frontline services which produce an educated workforce, maintain roads to provide good transport links, provide good quality housing for improved health, facilitate the sustainable disposal of waste and crucially, provide social care services to protect the most vulnerable in our society.
"Local council tax rates are directly related to local government's ability to deliver front line services such as education and social care, and each and every council will need to set a council tax rate that enables them to run these vital local public services as effectively as possible."