Posted on: Wednesday 6 March 2019
Torfaen councillors have approved a £176 million net budget that continues to invest and protect its corporate priorities of schools, services for vulnerable residents and cleaning and greening the borough.
The 2019/20 budget includes approximately £3.5 million of savings and efficiencies to meet a shortfall due to a range of factors including increased demand for services and rising costs to deliver them, national pay pressures and a below inflation funding settlement.
Torfaen’s council tax will increase by 5.95%. For a Band D property this equates to £1,315.49 per year. For the Torfaen element of the council tax bill this is an increase of approximately £1.42 per week, or £73.88 per year to the average Band D council tax bill. The increase will add a further £2.5 million to the budget which would otherwise have resulted in deeper service cuts.
Councillor Anthony Hunt, leader of Torfaen Council, said: ‘Once again, local councils of all political persuasions across the UK are at the sharp end of UK government budget cuts and rising demand for services. This has been another extremely challenging budget process but one where we’ve been able to put key services first and continue to support our local priorities of schools, protecting the vulnerable and cleaning and greening.
“Unfortunately there are few choices left for councils after a decade of austerity. None of us came into politics wanting to increase council tax, but the right thing to do in this circumstance is not the easy thing. In the current economic climate we are very aware of the pressure any council tax increase puts on household budgets, but this is the only way of retaining the local services which support our communities and protect our most vulnerable people - that is the challenge we have had to balance.”
During 2019/20 the council will continue to invest in its 21st Century Schools programme, make improvements to the highways infrastructure and provide disabled facilities grants. There will also be £750,000 extra funding for schools.
Councillor Hunt added: “Even if the money we received was merely in line with inflation, it would make a huge difference. After a decade of austerity we’re try to keep services afloat. We will continue to do so by staying true to our values, safeguarding services as best we can and protecting people from the worst impacts of austerity.”