Council tax in Carmarthenshire will go up by 7.5% in April after a majority of councillors approved the budget for 2024-25.

The Plaid-Independent-led council had originally envisaged a 6.5% rise but increased that by 1% after putting forward revised plans to defer some savings.

This was in response to a public consultation which more than 4,200 people responded to. Many were worried about the extent of the cuts proposed.

Speaking at meeting of full council, Plaid’s cabinet member for resources, Councillor Alun Lenny, said real-terms funding from central government, which pays for around 75% of the council’s day-to-day budget, had been falling for more than a decade.

He said the settlement for Carmarthenshire for 2024-25 was 3.5% higher than currently which, while welcome, was lower than inflation and nowhere enough to keep services operating at the same level. Savings and increases in charges of £10.8 million will need to be made.

Referring to the 7.5% council tax proposal, Cllr Lenny said: “While this is higher than any of us would have liked, I believe it strikes the right balance in terms of protecting vital services that the people of Carmarthenshire rely upon and look to the council to deliver each and every day.”

Alun Lenny
Cabinet Member for Resources, Cllr Alun Lenny (Stock image)

The Labour opposition group said it could not support the proposed budget. Setting out its concerns, Councillor Kevin Madge said the administration’s continuing use of reserves to help balance the budget was untenable, and he claimed that unless tougher decisions to plug the funding gap were taken, residents could face council tax increases of 15-20% in coming years.

“That would be totally unacceptable,” he said. “More people will need to go to food banks to make ends meet.”

The budget will see council departments spending £489.6m in 2024-25. The three highest spenders will be education and children’s services (£220.8m), although schools will get £2m less than this year, the communities department, which includes adult social care (£140.3m), and place and infrastructure (£76.8m).

It’ll mean Band D householders paying £1,602.79 – up from £1,490.97 – with the Dyfed-Powys Police precept pushing final council tax bills higher.