The Liberal Democrats/Independent opposition on Swansea Council are to press for a much lower council tax increase at Thursday's council meeting, in recognition of the financial hardship many local people are suffering during the pandemic.
They believe that the proposed 3.99% increase in people's bills next year, at a time when the council has received a big cash boost from the Welsh Government, is putting an unfair burden on taxpayers. Instead they are proposing to cut the increase in half, using money from the capital equilisation reserve to make up the difference in funding.
Commenting on the amendment, opposition leader, Chris Holley said: "It's been a bad year for all sections of our community with businesses and householders struggling financially. The proposal to increase council tax by 3.99% (sounds better than 4%) would mean the owner of a a band D property will now be paying £1462.39 a year, £56.06 more than currently and well above the rate of inflation.
"To make matters worse council plans predict an annual 5% council tax rise for each year from 2022 to 2026 to balance the books. That means that by 2025/26 a band D property owner will be paying approximately £1778, a huge burden at a time of financial constraint. I think it's only right that residents have some respite from these continuing above inflation increases. If the Council's new post COVID slogan 'achieving better together' means anything then it must take account of Swansea's citizens, who are our major stakeholders, and their ability to pay."
Gowerton Councillor, Sue Jones added: "The Labour Group on Swansea City Council have been squirrelling away millions in order to finance present and future capital loans for the City Deal and other projects. All they are achieving is deferring the pain. This fund should be used to improve services and to reduce the burden on local people, not cut or change the qualifying requirement for services like home care or day care."
Notes to editor:
This is the amendment that will be moved at the council meeting:
“It goes without saying that the global pandemic has had a huge financial impact on the lives of Swansea Council tax payers. We call on the Labour Council to reduce the proposed council tax rise of 3.99% to a more affordable 1.99%.
We propose funding the reduction with a one off drawdown from the capital equalisation reserve of £2.200m, to be shown as a contribution from earmarked reserves in the revenue budget of the same sum, and a consequential £0.440m reduction to the budgeted anticipated costs of Council Tax Reduction Scheme as a result of that proposed overall lower council tax increase.
We ask for the above amendments to the approved Cabinet report of 18th Feb 2021 be reflected in the final revenue budget to be agreed at Council .
Our proposed amendment would undoubtedly help the household budgets of all Swansea citizens on the road to recovery from the pandemic.”