GREATER “back office” savings could be made in education and social services a councillor has argued as he calls for a lower council tax rise for this financial year.
The services overview and scrutiny committee recommended a three per cent rise be passed to Pembrokeshire County Council’s cabinet rather than the five per cent being suggested in budget preparation reports.
Cllr Jamie Adams put forward the recommendation, adding he “won’t make any friends by saying it” but the largest spend of the council was education and social services and he’d be “interested to know to what extent departmental considerations have made at ensuring we are running as lean as we possible can.”
He also said that use of working balance or reserves would be “prudent” in the short term adding “if it isn’t a rainy day now when will it ever by a rainy day, with the challenges of covid that households throughout the county have had to tackle with.”
Recognising the impact of council tax on those “just managing” was important, he added.
The cabinet member for finance Cllr Bob Kilmister told the committee on Tuesday, January 26 that last week the schools scrutiny members had recommended approval for £6.2million worth of bids for growth to due to the challenges facing schools.
“Our children have had, for a whole year, a huge disruption to their education and the ones that are going to suffer most are the ones that come from the poorest backgrounds being disproportionately affected,” said Cllr Kilmister.
A five per cent increase in council tax would £1.10 per week on a band D property, said Cllr Kilmister, as he warned of increased pressures on the authority in future due to the impact of the pandemic and an increase in service levels.
Recovering debts of around £20million, including council tax non-payment, rent arrears, residential care, were highlighted at the committee, with work underway according to Cllr Kilmister, who added that impacted “cash flow” not budgets.