Newport councillors back 8.5% tax rise from April

Senior councillors in Newport have backed an 8.5% council tax rise from April, arguing residents’ bills will remain among the lowest in Wales.

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At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, council leader Jane Mudd said the “relatively small” rise would maintain essential services, for which demand “continues to increase”.

In cash terms, the rise will lead to people living in council tax bands A-C paying an extra £1.50 to £2.01 each week.

Responses to a public consultation on the council’s budget proposals showed 70% of people think the proposed rise is too high, however.

Some said the hike would “make it even more challenging for many to manage household costs”, and accused the council of “asking for more to provide less”.

Council tax bills are generally expected to go up in every part of Wales this year, as local authorities attempt to balance budgets following recent inflationary pressures and lower rises in central government settlements.

The Welsh Government has announced an average 3.1% increase in council funding compared with last year.

Proposed council tax rises vary across Wales and several councils’ plans are for higher rate increases than in Newport.

A Newport Council report shows many residents still believe the 8.5% proposed council rise for the city is too high, however.

In an online survey open to all residents, some 385 respondents (70.7%) said the increase was “too much”, while 126 (23.1%) said it was “about right” and 18 (3.3%) said it was “not enough”.

Some people who supported the council’s proposal said 8.5% was a “fair increase” and noted Newport’s council tax bills had been “historically low”.

At the cabinet meeting, several councillors stated that even with the rise in April, the city’s residents would still pay some of the lowest council tax rates in Wales.

Deputy leader Deb Davies told colleagues the 8.5% rise was “still affordable for our residents” in “difficult times”.

Not all households will be liable to pay the higher rate, because a council tax reduction scheme will support those suffering “financial challenges”.

Cllr Mudd said the council “can’t and won’t ignore” the “huge pressures on our most vulnerable families”.

Following cabinet members’ criticism of UK Government funding levels and policies, Cllr Mudd said local authorities were “fighting for survival”.

She said she believed the city council’s final budget would strike an “all-important balance for the citizens of Newport”.

The cabinet’s final budget proposals include extra spending on roads, social services, children with additional learning needs, and homelessness support.

All councillors will vote on the final budget proposals at a meeting later in February.

Cllr Mudd announced an extra:

£700,000 for highways infrastructure and maintenance.

£300,000 for additional learning needs in schools.

£160,000 for a social services safeguarding hub.

£595,000 towards long-term borrowing and capital projects.

£150,000 for homelessness services.

£145,000 to mitigate reductions in other grant funding.

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