DESPITE huge financial pressures, Plaid-led Carmarthenshire County council has managed to keep this year’s council tax increase to 3.45% – which is below the average Welsh council tax increases.
It places the county 14th out of 22 in the Wales ‘tax increase league table.’
Cllr David Jenkins, Executive Board Member for Finance said that the council had listened to the voice of the people in the budget consultation process. “Thanks to the hard work done, we’ve managed to bring the previously anticipated tax raise of almost 5% down to less than 3.5%, while at the same time maintaining council services. This is a responsible and sustainable budget in unprecedented difficult times.”
A last-minute attempt by the Labour opposition group to bring forward uncosted proposals was derided by Plaid councillors. It was pointed out to them that raiding a contingency fund to deal with possible unforeseen Covid-related expenditure in front line services like education and social care would not be prudent.
Cllr Darren Price said: “Both in actually level of council tax and the percentage increase, Carmarthenshire is below the Welsh average. In the local context, we are below Labour-controlled councils like Swansea and Neath Port Talbot. People in Amman Valley villages like Garnant and Glanaman in Carmarthenshire pay significantly less council tax than residents of Gwaun Cae Gurwen at the top end of the valley in Neath Port Talbot. Carmarthenshire residents in Band D will pay £1,724 a year, compared with £2,008 paid by those in the same band in Gwaun Cae Gurwen and the rest of Labour controlled Neath Port Talbot – an extra £284.
Cllr Carl Harris pointed out that if Welsh Government chose to use unspent sums they have in hand, there’d be no need for any tax rise. “Let’s be crystal clear. The Labour Welsh Government could freeze the council tax for every single resident in Carmarthenshire today at the stroke of a pen. They refused to do that when asked by Plaid Cymru,” he said.
The annual budget was passed with an overwhelming majority.