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Councillors set to approve highest council tax hike in Wales

04 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Pembrokeshire County Council, County Hall, Haverfordwest

Bruce Sinclair, Local democracy reporter

Council tax rates in Pembrokeshire will rise by more than 16 per cent, adding nearly £220 to the average bill, if a recommendation before councillors is backed next week.

It is recommended the council tax rate in Pembrokeshire increases by 16.3 per cent, a report for full council ahead of its March 7 meeting says.

The county had faced the possibility of even higher increases, of 18.94 per cent, and an eye-watering 20.98 per cent, before Cabinet members backed the 16.3 per cent rate last month, which is now recommended for full council.

The 16.3 per cent rate would see the basic council tax level – before town/community precepts and the police precept are included – rise by £219.02 for the average Band D property, taking it to £1,561.98.

It is expected to be the highest percentage rate in Wales, on top of previous increases of 12.5 per cent, 9.92 per cent, five per cent, 3.75 per cent, five per cent and 7.5 per cent.

Funding gap

Pembrokeshire is currently facing a projected funding gap of £31.9m, partly due to a lower-than-expected Provisional Local Government Settlement.

That figure has increased from £27.1m in December, and £28.4m in January, when it was described as “by far the highest funding gap in our history,” by Cabinet Member for Corporate Finance Cllr Alec Cormack.

The final council tax bill for residents would be higher than this as town and community council precepts and the police precept would be added; with second home-owners and empty property owners facing even higher bills as both have a premium rate.

The premium rate on second homes for the next financial year is 200 per cent, effectively a treble rate, with a more complicated approach on empty properties of 100 per cent after 24 months, 200 per cent after 36 months, and 300 per cent after five years.

Neighbouring Ceredigion backed a council tax increase of 11.1 per cent on February 29.

Taxpayers Alliance

Pembrokeshire’s proposed increase has been described by campaign group the Taxpayers Alliance as the largest council tax increase in England and Wales in more than a decade, with calls for councillors to “show some backbone, stand up for their residents and say no to this ruinous tax hike”.

Responding to the Taxpayers Alliance comments, Pembrokeshire Cabinet Member for Corporate Finance Cllr Alec Cormack said: “For 2024-25, Pembrokeshire County Council is facing additional demand pressures in statutory services (adult and children’s social care, homelessness and education). This means we need an extra £17m to provide these services next year – this alone is equivalent to an increase of over 26 per cent on council tax. Additionally, we face inflationary pressures of £22.8m.

“Our funding gap, after the AEF money we’ll receive from Welsh Government, is £31.9m.

“We are legally required to balance our budget – to match the amount of money coming in against what we spend to provide services. We are planning to make savings on our spending of £12.2m, as well as utilising some council tax premiums to enhance the sustainability of our communities.

“This has allowed us to limit the council tax rise to 16.31 per cent. This weighs up the need to limit council tax rises on residents against the need to preserve services used by many of the most vulnerable people in the county.

“The demand pressures, particularly in social care, are affecting all councils in Wales, but particularly Pembrokeshire, since we have had the lowest council tax in Wales for decades.

“Based on current information, we expect Pembrokeshire to still have one of the lowest council tax levels – probably 18th out of the 22 Welsh local authorities.”

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Was that building designed by James of St George (1230-1309) by any chance…

You can tell a lot about a council by its house like Conwy…

Arrogance and self-entitlement…

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Here in Pembrokeshire we refer to it as the Kremlin on the Cleddau. Apparently the chief executive officer (note: NOT the leader of the council) has his very own lift for his exclusive use to his office in one of the towers. So you can guess whose REALLY in charge. Mind you this increase in council tax has been a long time coming. For years Pembrokeshire County Council used to boast about having the lowest council tax in Wales (but were strangely quiet on the subject of having the crapest public services). Also, the Taxpayers Alliance (or the ‘I can’t… Read more »

Ian jones
Ian jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

Bryn parry Jones wanted his own lift when the building was planned, but did not get it, though the lift used to his office is one of the less used.

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