TORFAEN Council has approved final budget proposals and set the Council Tax increase below 2% for 2022-2023.

The council received a 9.3 per cent uplift in funding, equating to £13.5 million, for the next financial year in the final settlement from Welsh Government.

The increase meant the council had some £7.8 million to invest in services above the original assumption.

The report, which was backed by the majority of councillors, outlined plans to:

Increase the school budget by 5.30%;

Pay care workers a real living wage of £9.90 per hour;

An additional £1m capital funding on highways;

Further £1.1 million for COVID recovery and hardship;

Continuation of school leavers scheme;

Funding for the continuation of the approved Council Tax Reduction scheme; and

Additional money for social care providers.

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Council Leader, Cllr Anthony Hunt, said:

“I believe this is a good budget for the whole of Torfaen. This settlement provides us with an opportunity to plan long-term and to make investments in preventative and early intervention services which tackle issues upstream. If we think long-term, we can also protect the services that Covid has shown to be so important, and help our area recover and get stronger post-pandemic.

“If we look to make quick wins and champion a short-term spending spree, we will not make a difference for future generations.”

Torfaen’s Executive Member for Resources, Cllr Kelly Preston said:

“We proposed keeping council tax as low as possible for two years in recognition of rising living costs and to provide financial certainty for residents. A council tax increase of 1.95% reflects a much better settlement from Welsh Government and the lowest in my time as a councillor.

“This is an increase of around 50p a week for an average (band D) home in the borough. But our spending proposals, as we start to recover from the pandemic, also help to address its impact on our residents and communities.

“The additional money from Welsh Government allows us to address some critical areas for investment and also includes significant increases for schools and social care, areas which are vitally important to our residents.”

By Gwynoro Jones

Former MP for Carmarthenshire, Gwynoro Jones joined the team covering politics in Wales. He has a wealth of experience in politics and has been a regular commentator on radio, TV and in newspapers in Wales. Email: gwynorojones@walesnewsonline.com

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