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Taxpayers Alliance target 16.3% council tax increase

29 Feb 2024 4 minute read
Tenby in Pembrokeshire. Picture by Nessy (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Bruce Sinclair Local Democracy Reporter

A UK campaign group is to target a Welsh council ahead of the county facing what the group says would be the largest council tax increase in England and Wales in more than a decade.

At the February meeting of the county council’s Cabinet, members backed a council tax increase in Pembrokeshire of 16.3 per cent.

The proposed increase, which will be decided by full council at its March 7 meeting, 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.

Campaign

It is expected to be the highest percentage rate in Wales, on top of previous Pembrokeshire 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.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) has launched a campaign against the proposed increase, and will be in Milford Haven on Thursday, February 29, and Friday, March 1, delivering leaflets and speaking to residents about the proposed increase.

TPA research says that if the tax rise is agreed, it will be the largest in England and Wales since 2012-13, when referendum principles were agreed.

England differs from Wales in having a cap, needing a referendum for any rate above five per cent for the 2024-25 financial year.

Taxpayers Alliance says Pembrokeshire’s proposal would be the largest percentage increase in Wales since 2000-01 and the third largest since 1997-98.

The only larger rises were in 2000-01 and 1998-99, when Monmouthshire and Powys county councils increased their council tax by 23.15 per cent and 17.5 per cent respectively, the group says.

At the February meeting of Pembrokeshire’s Cabinet, potential rises of 18.94 per cent, and an eye-watering 20.98 were mooted, which would have placed the county in second place.

Opposition

The TPA is calling on residents in Pembrokeshire to write to the leader of the council, Cllr David Simpson, expressing their opposition to the proposals.

Benjamin Elks, grassroots development manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This record-busting rate rise would deal a devastating blow to household finances in Pembrokeshire.

“Local taxpayers face being punished for the council’s failure to find efficiencies, cut down on waste and balance the books.

“Councillors should show some backbone, stand up for their residents and say no to this ruinous tax hike.”

Pembrokeshire, currently facing a projected funding gap of £31.9m, has historically had the lowest council tax in Wales.

For comparison, the current 2023-’24 average Band D base council tax – before police and town/community council parts of the overall bill are included – for Pembrokeshire is £1,342.86, compared to Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire at £1,553.60 and £1,490.97 respectively.

If the council had Ceredigion’s level of council tax for 2023-24, it would have had an additional £11.758m income and if it had Carmarthenshire’s it would have had an additional £8.264m.

Neighbouring Ceredigion is recommended to back an 11.1 per cent increase at its full council meeting of February 29.

“Pressures”

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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Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

Tax rate hikes are eye watering but the TPA, who funds them? That should be the main question. They are not a campaign group, they are an opaquely funded far right think tank.
I expect the order has gone out from No10 allies to get ramping it up coming to the election to remove votes that could unseat a lot of Conservative MP’s.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/who-funds-you/

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago

Three points here:

1. How do they think councils pay for services?

2. For years Pembrokeshire County Council had the lowest council tax rates in Wales (which they used to constantly harp on about neglecting to mention that they also delivered some of the worst public services). Sooner or later something was going to have to give.

3. Pembrokeshire County Council is run by tories thinly disguised as so-called ‘independents’, so the taxpayers alliance campaign could have the effect of ridding us of these tory-in-all-but name councillors.

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

We all have the simple choice, made for us by UK Gov reduced funding to every council in Britain, they are going bust in England, we either pay more in council tax, or face massive cuts to services, nothing is free, and if we want to maintain services, we have to pay more. The alternative is, vote into power a party that will not increase taxes, and are honest to say they will cut services.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

Recent polling reported in Byline times and elsewhere has suggeste that a decent majority (60+%) of UK citizens would be happy to pay more tax if services were to improved. As Jeff points out the TPA is a right wing pressure group funded secretly and generally they push the Market Fundamentalist mantra. Definitely not a group to support if one is a social democrat. For those looking for a lift in these dark times, there is a nice piece in the current edition of The New European by Jonty Bloom. It is the budget speech that should be getting rather… Read more »

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

I did read some time ago that people in Cymru would support extra taxes to fund education and the NHS, we have the power to do this, very taxes, so why not, maybe afraid of losing votes? I would have thought that with a good presentation by the FM , and a way to show where the money was going, would persuade most people it is the right thing to do.

William
William
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

Nothing is free, correct, but we all pay taxes

Paul ap Gareth
Paul ap Gareth
1 month ago

A Tufton Street lobby group who will not be happy until there are no public services.

William
William
1 month ago

Time all public decisions were made public to see what the so called elected representatives vote for. How much will their remuneration increase this year. They should all take a leaf out of the book of the Port Talbot councillor who took nothing

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