The WLGA predicts that the average council tax increase across Wales for 2011-12 will be the lowest since devolution, at approximately 2.93%. This is well below the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which is currently running at 4%. This prediction is based on a survey of councils across Wales, although not all councils have yet finalised their budgets and council tax increases for 2011-12.
Responding to this historically low average increase, Cllr John Davies (Pembrokeshire) WLGA Leader said:
“I’m pleased that by working with colleagues across Wales we have managed to keep council tax increases down to the bare minimum required to protect the services that people value while at the same time trying not to put too much pressure on household budgets. As it stands this increase amounts to 52 pence per week for the average Band D payer in Wales.”
“There is no doubt that the next few years will be very tough for local government finances and councils must therefore be prudent in their council tax setting decisions to ensure that they have sufficient funding over the medium term and for the next financial year. At the same time councils are forcing more efficiency from their systems, reducing their workforces and are looking to implement a second year pay freeze. These actions, taken together with modest increases in council tax will help councils protect vital front line services.”
“There has been some criticism that Welsh councils have failed to freeze tax increases like their counterparts in Scotland and England. The Taxpayers Alliance never let the facts spoil a good argument - in England the UK Government has earmarked funding to councils to freeze council tax whereas in Wales the Welsh Assembly Government has earmarked councils’ funding to provide additional support for education and social services and has recognised the need for councils to strike a balance between sustaining these key services and limiting any additional pressure on hard-pressed households. If comparisons are to be drawn between England and Wales, then council tax in Wales represents value for money compared to England with the average Band D Bill for 2011-12 likely to be £466 less than in England.”
Cllr Rodney Berman (Cardiff), WLGA Finance Spokesperson said:
“Councils have again had to make some difficult decisions in this budget round, trying to balance the pressures facing frontline services with the need to protect citizens in their communities from higher council tax increases.”
“The Local Government Settlement for 2011-12 is the worst since devolution, representing a cash cut in our grant of -1.4%. Despite this and increasing demands for services, particularly social services, councils have made a concerted effort to keep tax increases as low as possible.”
In the last financial year Wrecsam CBC had the seventh lowest Band D Council tax rate in England and Wales.