Pembrokeshire ratepayers face highest council tax increase yet

By Bruce Sinclair

PEMBROKESHIRE ratepayers are facing the highest council tax increase percentage-wise in mid and west Wales, but will still pay the least.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, meeting last week, agreed on a 7.5 per cent increase, which would increase the annual bill of the average Band D property by £62.46, to £1,311.63.

The 7.5 per cent increase – which will be considered by full council on March 2, would be coupled with budget savings of £8.055m, using funds from the second homes council tax revenue, an estimated use of £1.6m of reserves, and budget savings.

They were warned the council tax increase would have to be raised to 12.9 per cent to balance the budget if full council didn’t support using revenue from the second homes council tax premium.

At the February meeting of neighbouring Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet, members agreed to a 7.3 per cent increase in the council tax level for 2023-24.

This would equate to a Band D cost for county council purposes of £1,553.60; an increase of £105.70, which would make Ceredigion’s average bill more than £240 higher than Pembrokeshire’s.

A final decision on the increase will be made at the March 2 meeting of Ceredigion’s full council, the same day as Pembrokeshire.

Carmarthenshire’s council tax is expected to increase by 6.8 per cent this year, lower than anticipated, following the council’s widest-ever budget consultation.

The final rise in Carmarthenshire is due to be discussed next month.

An expected five per cent hike to council tax levels in Powys will be decided at a full council meeting on February 23.

At the February meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, members were told that, despite increases of 12.5 per cent, 9.92 per cent, five per cent, 3.75 per cent and five per cent since 2018-19, the council continues to have the lowest council tax ‘Band D’ in Wales for 2022-23 at £1,249.17.

Neighbouring local authorities Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire were at £1,447.90 and £1,396.04 respectively.

Pembrokeshire ratepayers are still forecast to have the lowest council tax bills after all local authorities have set their levels.

A report for members stated: “Having the lowest council tax ‘Band D’ means that any council tax percentage increase in Pembrokeshire generates less income than the equivalent increases in other Welsh local authorities.”

Based on the current 2022-23 figures, a one per cent increase in council tax would net Pembrokeshire an extra £12.49 a year for each Band D property, £1.99 less than neighbouring Ceredigion, £1.47 less than Carmarthenshire; and £5.19 less than highest council tax authority Blaenau Gwent.

Leader David Simpson has said historically low council tax rates in the county had been “a mistake”.

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