Posted: Thu 14th Jan 2021

Anglesey Council Executive to discuss 3.75% council tax rise

North Wales news and information

Anglesey Council will consider plans for a 3.75% council tax rise as next year’s budget is debated for the first time.

A meeting of the council executive will be asked to consult on what would be the lowest tax rise in four years, but follows an increase in the block grant received from Cardiff Bay –  which makes up the bulk of the authority’s income.

A £3.8m increase in the settlement – or 3.78% – has been earmarked by ministers to help local government following a difficult year on the front line of the battle against Covid-19.
The report, which will be considered by Anglesey Council’s Executive on Monday, proposes consulting on a 3.75% council tax rise – the equivalent of 94p a week or around £49 a year for an average ‘Band D’ household.

Allowing for a standstill budget of £147.076m – with £101m coming from central government and the remainder from council tax – the report describes the budget as “allowing the council to maintain its existing services” but also warns of “new budget pressures.”

With the new eight year waste collection contract with Biffa costing the council an extra £900,000 a year, this is only partially made up by the extra £265,000 a year expected to be recouped from the new garden waste collection charge – set to be introduced later this year.
Other earmarked investments include the recruitment of professional trainees, with the authority said to be finding it “increasingly difficult to appoint suitably qualified professional staff in a number of areas across the council’s services.”

The proposed budget of £250,000, notes the report, would allow the appointment of between eight and ten trainees which would provide opportunities for local people to start a career in local government and would go some way to address future skills shortages.

Also proposed is extra cash for public protection to increase its capacity – particularly in light of the challenges faced during the pandemic – better IT equipment and support for schools, more tourism staff to improve management of beaches and investing in projects to reduce the authority’s carbon footprint and commitment to tackling climate change.

In better news, however, it’s proposed to freeze the price of school meals for the 2021/22 year, with the authority’s reserves also on the path to recovery.

This follows publication of a letter by the Wales Audit Office in 2019 which warned of “dangerously low” balances following a tendency to rely on its reserves to balance the books.
But it’s expected that the authority’s “rainy day” fund is set to recover to the 5% target – or approximately £8m – as recommended for a council of its size.

The Welsh Government only announced the provisional settlement on December 22, over than two months later than usual, resulting in the council’s consultation also being delayed.

If approved on Monday, a public consultation on the plans is set to be launched  (January 19 – February 2) before adoption by the full council on March 9 ahead of the new financial year.

By Gareth Williams – Local Democracy Reporter

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