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COUNCIL tax in Merthyr Tydfil will go up by 3.55% next year after the council agreed its budget.

Budget proposals were agreed by the cabinet and full council on Wednesday, March 3, which will see a Band D council tax of £1,728.98 for 2021/22 meaning an increase of £59.27 for the year or £1.14 per week.

The cabinet report said that as 84% of the properties within the county borough are valued at Bands A to C, a significant proportion of council taxpayers will be liable to payments less than £1,728.98.

It adds that the Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2021/22 adopted by Council in January provides support with council tax payments for those residents eligible to apply.

The council reduced its opening budget gap for next of £3.58m to a £288,000 budget surplus through:

£2.78m from the Welsh Government settlement; £216,000 through the social services grant;

£1.27m in Covid demands being funded by the Welsh Government; £764,000 in money for further commitments; £150,000 through the corporate vacancy factor which reflects the salary savings resulting from the natural delay between a post becoming vacant and being filled; £350,000 in employee severance costs and £1.04m in service cuts.

With £106,000 from measures withdrawn at full council, £1.9m in additional demands and £705,000 going towards a council service capacity exercise, this resulted in the £288,000 surplus.

But with the council tax increase proposal of 3.55%, this results in a net loss of income of £343,000 compared to what it would have been with a 4.99% increase as originally modelled.

This means the council has a £55,000 budget deficit which it plans to address through a reduction in the pay award provision.

This leaves the council with a revenue budget for the next financial year of £133.34m.

The council is expecting the Welsh Government’s Covid-19 Hardship Fund to continue into 2021/22 with estimated additional costs of £1.27m requiring extra financial support.

These costs include £871,000 around homelessness provision, £31,000 related to school transport, £275,000 in lost car parking income and £100,000 in lost conference income.

The council received a 4.6% increase in its funding from the Welsh Government for next year which was recently confirmed in the final local government settlement.

Councillor Lisa Mytton, the leader of the council, said:

“After lengthy discussions between the council’s administration and opposition parties, it was agreed on a figure of 3.55%.

“The council tax helps pay for the services the council provides for the people of Merthyr Tydfil, including education, social services, community centres, street lighting, refuse collection, youth and sports centres, libraries, and leisure centres.

“On top of that, it pays for our contribution towards the police, fire and civil defence, public transport, and rubbish and waste disposal.”

She added:

“We always regret having to see an increase in council tax, but sadly it’s been unavoidable given the financial pressure on the authority year on year.

“I’m satisfied that every possible step has been taken to keep it to the barest minimum required to allow us to keep on providing the services that we do.

“I would also like to thank Cllr Darren Roberts and Cllr Julian Amos for their support in helping us reach the council tax decision.”

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