PEMBROKESHIRE council has £7.5million in reserves but using it to prop-up services would be a financial risk and move pressures into coming years, a committee was told as it recommended a lower council tax rise than proposed.
Corporate overview and scrutiny is the third committee to not give its support to five per cent council tax rise, calling for a lower increase to be considered.
Only the social care overview and scrutiny committee has given its support to the recommendation of five per cent.
The predicted funding gap of £25million is reduced to £14.5million, with Pembrokeshire’s provisional AEF for 2021-22 £179,387,000, nearly £7million more than last year.
Previous discussions have highlighted the possibility of using some council reserves
Cllr Reg Owens said at the meeting on Thursday (January 28) that “many families that were doing quite well prior to covid are now struggling.”
The council “should be helping out the good people of Pembrokeshire where possible.”
This was echoed by Cllr Michael Williams who said he had “never seen such a degree of poverty that’s come to the fore in the last 12 months as I have now.”
He added he never thought he’d see the day that Tenby, “quite a wealthy community,” would have a food bank.
“I agree we’ve got to be cautious in using reserves but these are exceptional circumstances,” added Cllr Williams.
Cllr Bob Kilmister, the cabinet member for finance, said that although a better than expected increase in Welsh Government funding had been received this year, an increase was not planned for next year adding “we’ve got to think to the future as well.”
An increase in service demand would be expected post-covid and using reserves “to fund ongoing services puts pressure in the next year, it just moves the pressure on.”
Cllr Kilmister said that implementing a three per cent rise would mean £1.8million more of cost savings would have to be made