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Council Tax levy across north of Wales could go up 20%, Plaid MS warns

31 Mar 2023 3 minute read
Air Ambulance & North Wales Fire & Rescue Service by kelosscross is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Council taxpayers across north Wales could see the levy they pay for fire and rescue services rise by up to 20% if additional funding is not forthcoming from central government.

The warning comes after a deputy Welsh minister admitted in the Senedd that the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority faces ‘significant further pressures’ over funding, after questioning by Plaid Cymru’s regional MS Llyr Gruffydd.

Mr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s Member of the Senedd for North Wales, had asked what input the Welsh government had into the decision to impose further financial pressures on the Fire and Rescue Authority without providing additional funding.

Beggars belief

He said: “The settlement throughout England and Wales with the FBU, the fire fighters’ union, is very welcome in terms of avoiding significant disruption and ensuring firefighters have decent pay for a difficult job.

“But it beggars belief that the decision, made with the support of both UK and Welsh Governments, can be made without providing additional funding for that award from the Treasury.

“As things stand, North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority is facing the impossible choice of either reducing services, which could have profound impacts on the ability to deal with emergencies, or bridging the financial hole by increasing the levy on residents who are still facing a cost-of-living crisis. Without further central government funding, the Council Tax levy would have to increase by 20% if current service levels are to be maintained.

“I wanted to know what input the Welsh Government had had into these discussions. It seems that Fire Authorities in Wales are facing a huge challenge because there is no money available from the London Government to maintain staff salaries. Isn’t this another argument for the devolution of the responsibility of the services to Wales?”

Deputy Minister for Social Partnership Hannah Blythyn, in response, admitted that fire authorities across Wales faced ‘further significant pressures’ as a result of the agreement.

Mr Gruffydd added: “A decade of austerity has left key public services on their knees, including the fire and rescue service.

“Without a change from the ongoing salami slicing of those key services, we’re going to see significant problems emerge in terms of the cover provided for communities across Wales.

“It’s unreasonable to expect the Council Tax levy to pay for that additional cost. We need a government that values those services rather than one that seems determined to run them down.”

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