Wales

Newport City Council sets budget with 5.95% tax rise

Council tax bill Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Newport's council tax will go up by £63 for the average Band D property

Newport City Council will increase council tax by 5.95% and make almost £7m of cuts after councillors backed the Labour cabinet's budget.

The decision means the annual council tax bill for a Band D property will go up by £63 to £1,120, plus charges for police and community councils.

There were plans for a 6.95% increase in council tax before the Welsh Government promised extra money.

Its funding for Newport is going up by 0.6%, well below the rate of inflation.

It will cover around three-quarters of the council's budget of £280m.

Council leader Debbie Wilcox said the council had a "significant budget challenge", claiming that "ongoing financial austerity" was "making choices increasingly difficult".

She added that "despite uncertainties", Labour would "continue to look forward and with confidence in running this city".

Labour and Conservative councillors argued at Tuesday's full council meeting over whether the Welsh or UK government was to blame for a squeeze on council funding.

Tory group leader Matthew Evans - a former leader of the council - accused Labour of failing to keep its promise to protect the most vulnerable from cuts.

Independent councillor Chris Evans said it was time to end such talk of "Labour bad, Tory good", saying: "We need to work together to find creative solutions."

Education and social services will be expected to make the most savings as the departments with the biggest budgets.

The creation of neighbourhood hubs and resulting closure of surplus buildings could save £267,000, while the introduction of smaller bins to encourage recycling could help save £110,000.

The authority has shelved a decision to pull out of the Gwent-wide Sensory and Communication Support Unit (SenCom) for blind and deaf children, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, which it predicted would have saved £250,000.

Plans to increase annual parking permit charges have also been put on hold until July, when Newport council takes over responsibility for parking enforcement from Gwent Police.

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