Wales

Torfaen council tax rising by nearly 6%

Council tax bill Image copyright Getty Images

Torfaen residents face a 5.95% increase in council tax from April in a budget which includes £3.5m savings.

It means the bill for a Band D property will go up by £74 to £1,315, plus police and community council charges.

Labour leaders of the authority have vowed to protect schools and social care, as well as street cleaning.

However, social care teams will be asked to tackle the high cost of some placements, and the subsidy will be cut for a community farm in Cwmbran.

Council leader Anthony Hunt said the authority had been left to "make the best of a bad situation", claiming 10 years of austerity from the UK government had stretched councils to "breaking point".

'Devastating effect'

Conservative member Jason O'Connell said the council should have pressed the Welsh Government harder for more cash, claiming: "Torfaen has a pussycat negotiating for us when we need a dragon."

Independent councillor Janet Jones was among those to oppose the tax hike, saying it would have a "devastating effect" on people already living in poverty.

Much of the savings will come from a restructuring of departments, to run services more efficiently.

Other changes include a cut in the use of agency staff in waste collection, while residents will be asked to sort out their rubbish at the recycling centre to reduce the amount sent to landfill.

Welsh Government funding - which will cover about three-quarters of Torfaen's £177m budget - is going up by 0.6%, less than the rate of inflation.

The Welsh Government said it had offered councils "the best settlement possible in this ninth year of austerity".

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