Conwy’s cabinet unanimously voted to increase council tax by 3.95% to generate an extra £2.3m to help balance the council’s books for the new financial year.

The cabinet plans to raid council reserves and make cuts across the board to recover a shortfall of £7.4m.

It’s also proposed that services – including schools – will be forced to make cuts of 1.5% to generate over £3m.

Whilst Conwy had a 9.5% percentage rise in its settlement from Welsh Government, the council has more responsibilities and costs to cover.

Every cabinet member briefed the meeting, highlighting how stretched services already are.

Speaking about budget cuts, cabinet member for finance Cllr Brian Cossey admitted council managers and headteachers were concerned by the proposals.

“All service heads, as well as schools, have expressed concerns to us all about the negative impact of further budget reductions.”

Cllr Cossey added: “It’s of no surprise that services are increasingly cut to the bone.”

Rejected business cases made by individual council services will bring in an additional £1.3m, and the authority will also take £709,000 from its reserves.
The proposed cuts, part of the indicative budget for 2022/23, will then be presented to full council in March where all 59 councillors will have a say on how the budget is set.

Despite the proposed increase in council tax, Cllr Brian Cossey said Conwy currently had the ninth lowest council tax in Wales, reminding councillors a band D property in Conwy costs £1,383.50 a year, compared to the Welsh average of £1,430.07.

Cllr Cossey also said Gwynedd’s band D rate is £1,483.23 or 7.2% higher, and Denbighshire’s rate £1,436.76 or 3.85% higher.

Councillors were warned that setting council tax too low could jeopardise services.
Cllr Cossey said: “So how it looks… Our 3.95% council tax rise should bring us in £2.344m. We have already agreed to use £709,000 from our reserves. At 1.5%, we should have budget reductions of £3.023m and the rejected business cases should bring £1.325m, which then brings us to the £7.4m that we were looking at at the beginning of the process.”

“So we do have a balanced budget. We think it is right for our residents. It is right for our staff, and we think it is right for the considerable pressures our council and our residents will come under over the next twelve months. It is a fair, balanced budget.”

Conwy’s leader Cllr Charlie McCoubrey said he was proud of the cabinet members for making some difficult decisions.

“I, as leader, will be proud to second that,” he said.

“The work you guys have done… you have taken a lot of pushing and prodding from me, defending your services where you had to, which is exactly the right thing to do. We’ve had to make some difficult choices along the way. I, as leader, will take full responsibility for those choices because there is risk there.”

But Cllr McCoubrey warned: “I think it is really important that we highlight this: you can make cuts this year, but it will cost you more money next year or the year after or the year after.

“We keep people in their houses as they grow older. If we don’t provide domiciliary care, people will end up in care homes. It’s no good for them, and it will cost more down the line.”

Cllr Brian Cossey moved the recommendations, which were seconded by Cllr Charlie McCoubrey. Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the decision.

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