Councillor C.Clement-Williams, Cabinet Member for Finance introduced the report which had been commended to Council from Cabinet on the 8th March 2021. It was highlighted that 1,069 responses plus letters and a petition had been received to the public consultation on the budget and asked Council to support the recommendations contained within the report.
Members thanked officers and the Cabinet for the work that had been undertaken in achieving the budget position here before Council today especially that there were no new cuts to services being proposed for 2021/2022.
Concern was expressed by some Members at the impact that the 2.75% increase in Council Tax would have on residents/taxpayers. It was acknowledged that in the public consultation the proposed Council Tax rise was 3.75% but having listened to the responses the final proposal was reduced to 2.75%. It was highlighted that Neath Port Talbot Council was still one of the highest council tax in Wales.
Officers explained that the reduction from the original increase in Council Tax of 3.75% to 2.75% was as a result of additional monies received from Welsh Government in the final settlement figure together with the reimbursement of Covid 19 costs and loss of income in 2020/2021 and Welsh Government Funds provided for 2021/2022.
Discussion took place on the proposal put forward that reserves be used to enable the council tax to have no increase in Council Tax for this year 2021/2022 in order to mitigate the impact on families and communities within Neath Port Talbot.
Officers explained that the impact of taking the additional monies to allow for a nil increase in Council Tax would impact on the budget for 2022/2023 as the Council has to have a sustainable budget going forward for the next five years.
Further discussion took place on how Neath Port Talbot compares with other councils and the different types of reserves that they retain and what services are received.
The Cabinet Member for Finance responded and stated that every year consideration is given to try to reduce the level of Council Tax and that over the last 4 years the Council had the second lowest increase in Wales. It was highlighted that any further monies taken from reserves would have to be identified as savings from other services to replenish reserves to enable the Council to respond to unplanned emergencies and the ongoing impact of the pandemic. In addition, Council Tax was highlighted in the public consultation, as a result, it was reduced by 1% from 3.75% to 2.75% after the settlement figure from Welsh Government was received. The impact of reducing Council Tax increase to nil would result in reductions in services or staff in the 2022/2023 budget.
An amendment was put to Council and there followed a request for a recorded vote, on the following amendment, which received the requisite support in accordance with the requirements of Section 14.5 of Part 4 of the Council’s Constitution – Rules of Procedure.
That the 2021/2022 Band D equivalent for Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council will be £1,615.59 resulting in no increase in Council Tax as opposed to 2.75% increase as detailed in the report with the gap of 2.75% being funded from the general reserve (representing an additional sum of £2.14m be taken for 2021/2022). Therefore, the total amount of general reserves needed to balance the budget is £5.24m i.e. £3.1m per original report) plus £2.14m. The resulting general reserves balance would be £14.72m which is 4.69% of the revenue budget.
For the Amendment:
Councillors: S.Bamsey, H.C.Clarke, R.Davies, C.Edwards,
J.Evans, W.F.Griffiths, J.Hale, N.T.Hunt,
H.Jones, A.Llewelyn, D.M.Peters, R.Phillips, L.M.Purcell, A.J.Richards, M.Spooner and C.Williams
Against the Amendment:
A.Aubrey, D.Cawsey, C.Clement-Williams, C.M.Crowley, A.P.H.Davies, N.E.Davies, O.S.Davies, S.E.Freeguard, C.Galworthy, S.Harris, M.Harvey, S.K.Hunt, J.Hurley, C.James, H.N.James, C.J.Jones, D.Jones, J.Jones, L.C.Jones, D.Keogh, E.V.Latham, A.R.Lockyer, A.McGrath, J.Miller, S.Miller, R.Mizen, S.Paddison, S.M.Penry, M.Protheroe, S.M.Pursey, S.Rahaman, P.A Rees, S.Renkes, S.H.Reynolds, P.D.Richards, A.J.Taylor, R.L.Taylor, J. Warman, D.Whitelock, A. Wingrave, R.W.Wood, A.N.Woolcock.
As a result of the above the amendment fell and there followed a request for a recorded vote, on the substantive recommendation contained in the circulated report, which received the requisite support in accordance with the requirements of Section 14.5 of Part 4 of the Council’s Constitution – Rules of Procedure.
For the Recommendation:
A.R.Aubrey, D.Cawsey, C.Clement-Williams, C.M.Crowley, A.P.H.Davies, O.S.Davies, S.E.Freeguard, C.Galsworthy, S.Harris, M.Harvey, S.K.Hunt, J.Hurley, C.James, H.N.James, C.J.Jones, D.Jones, L.C.Jones, D.Keogh, E.V.Latham, A.R.Lockyer, A.McGrath, J.Miller, S.Miller, R.Mizen, S.Paddison, S.M.Penry, M.Protheroe, S.M.Pursey, S.Rahaman, P.A.Rees, S.Renkes, S.H.Reynolds, P.D.Richards, A.J.Taylor, R.L.Taylor, J. Warman, D.Whitelock, A.Wingrave, R.W.Wood and A.N.Woolcock.
Against the Recommendation:
S.Bamsey, H.C.Clarke, R.Davies, C.Edwards, J.Evans, W.F.Griffiths, J.Hale, N.T.Hunt, H.Jones, A. Llewelyn, D.M.Peters, R.Phillips.
L.M.Purcell, A.J.Richards, M.Spooner and C.Williams.
Councillors: N.E.Davies, J.Jones and S.Jones
Having given due regard to the Integrated Impact Assessment as detailed in Appendix 7 to the circulated report:
a) The following matters be delegated to the appropriate Corporate Director following consultation with the Council Leader, relevant Cabinet Member and Chair of the relevant Scrutiny Committee:-
· Fees and Charges applicable for the financial year 2021/2022
· Fees and Charges which are applicable in any subsequent financial year and which, in the opinion of the relevant Corporate Director, need to be set in advance of the financial year for operational reasons.
b) That the revised budget position and arrangements for 2020/2021 be approved.
c) Having taken into account the Integrated Impact Assessment and Crime and Disorder Impacts the Net Revenue Budget requirement for 2021/2022, and the service plans for the delivery of the budgets be approved.
d) That the Budget/Forward Financial Plan savings be approved.
e) That Corporate Directors be instructed to progress the savings and improvement programme for the Authority.
f) Fees and charges for Non-Executive functions be delegated to the appropriate Corporate Director following consultation with the Council Leader, Deputy Leader and Chair of the relevant Non Executive Committee.
· Fees and Charges applicable in 2021/2022.
· Fees and charges applicable in any subsequent financial year and which, in the opinion of the Corporate Director, need to be set in advance of that financial year for operational reasons.
g) That the Council Tax 2021/2022 Band D equivalent for Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council will be £1,660.02.