NEATH Port Talbot residents look set to receive one of the lowest Council Tax increases in Wales with no proposed cuts in services and increased investment in services of almost £9m.
A report to be considered by Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet next week is now recommending an initial 3.75% proposed Council Tax rise for 2021/22 be reduced to just 2.75%.
It follows a public consultation on the proposed 2021/22 budget which took into account views from more than 1,000 residents.
The report to Cabinet members said: “The proposed increase in Council Tax was identified as being the main concern (on financial grounds) and following consideration, this, along with some other proposals, have been amended. Following the consultation process, the proposed increase in Council Tax has been reduced from 3.75% to 2.75%.”
After considering the report next week, a full meeting of the Council will finally set the 2021/22 budget. The council gets 75% of its revenue budget from the Welsh Government, with Council Tax funding the remaining 25%
The report also outlines additional investment in front line services of almost £9m including an inflation-busting increase of 3.52% directly to schools; over £2m new investment in Social Services and an additional £1.6m for visible day to day services.
Cllr Carol Clement Williams, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said:
“After initially proposing a budget containing a proposed 3.75% increase in Council Tax we went out to public consultation.
“We listened carefully to what people had to say and it was clear that financial concerns over the proposed rise in Council Tax were one of the main issues people had with our proposals.
“This council has to work hard to keep the Council Tax increase to the lowest possible level, balanced against the need to provide the many vital services so many of our residents and businesses rely on.
“I’m pleased to say we were able to reach a position in which we could lower the proposed Council Tax increase to 2.75%, one of the lowest in Wales and still resist cuts in services and providing an additional investment of almost £9m.”
Despite the tough economic climate due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a second report will ask councillors to approve a projected investment of more than £150m in major projects in Neath Port Talbot over the next three years.
Here are just some of the investments being targeted for 2021/22:
The opening of a new £29m comprehensive school in Cimla to replace Cefn Saeson Comprehensive (expected to be completed in June this year, three months ahead of schedule);
Progressing with the building of the new single-site primary school replacement for the three-site Abbey Primary (total investment £11m);
Continuing the third phase of works at Ysgol Gymraeg Ystalyfera (total project budget, £9m);
Continuing with the planned major development of Margam Country Park including a new zip slide attraction and children’s play area;
Progressing an ambitious regeneration programme including Harbourside (the former Port Talbot docklands development area), the Neath Town Centre redevelopment (work on the new shopping and leisure complex began last year), the Plaza Cinema redevelopment project, and the self-powering Technology Centre being built at the Baglan Bay Energy Park to boost green jobs and investment;
Continued investment of £3m in Disabled Facilities Grants;
Redevelopment works at Neath’s Hillside Secure Unit; and
Investment in school buildings and ICT.