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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 March 2008, 10:41 GMT
Council tax rise is lowest ever
Council tax letter (library)

Councils in Wales have voted for the lowest ever increases in council tax since it was introduced in 1993, a poll by BBC Wales has revealed.

The average increase across Wales next year will be 3.75% - just under the previous record of 3.8% seen in 2005/6.

It means the average band D household in Wales will have to pay 871 a year in basic council tax.

The highest increases are in Conwy and Ceredigion - both 5% - and the lowest is in Anglesey, which is 1.5%.

This compares to a reported increase of 3.9% in council tax in England, with the average English band D bill estimated by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) to be 1,373.

A handful of Wales' 22 local authorities are yet to confirm their new council tax levels for 2008/9, but every council will have voted on the final level of increases by the end of Friday afternoon.

Council tax increases in Wales
Council - % Increase - Average band D
Anglesey - 1.5% - 766.80
Blaenau Gwent - 3.9% - 1079.80 (To be confirmed)
Bridgend - 3.87% - 961.14
Caerphilly - 3.5% - 852.50
Cardiff - 3.53% - 843.20
Carmarthenshire - 4.52% - 850.53
Ceredigion - 5.0% - 825.37
Conwy - 5.0% - 746.04
Denbighshire - 3.32% - 943.35
Flintshire - 3.39% - 823.60
Gwynedd - 3.8% - 889.68
Merthyr Tydfil - 2.63% - 1062.87 (TBC)
Monmouthshire - 4.95% - 894.51 (TBC)
Neath Port Talbot - 3% - 1068.89 (TBC)
Newport - 3.5% - 714.98
Pembrokeshire - 3.95% - 638
Powys - 3.50% - 828.16
Rhondda Cynon Taf - 4.93% - 998.12 (TBC)
Swansea - 3.50% - 879.25
Torfaen - 3.81% - 864.90 (TBC)
Vale of Glamorgan - 4.5% - 828.45
Wrexham - 2.9% - 814.08
Wales average - 3.75% - 871.56
Source: BBC Wales

The highest increases in basic council tax will be seen in Conwy and Ceredigion (both 5%), Monmouth (4.95%), Rhondda Cynon Taf (4.93%), Carmarthenshire (4.52%) and the Vale of Glamorgan (4.5%).

Only three councils will keep the level of increase below 3% - Anglesey (1.5%), Merthyr Tydfil (2.63%) and Wrexham (2.9%).

On top of the basic council tax, householders will have to make separate payments for local police services and community/town councils.

The low increases come despite fears for high rises following a below inflation settlement from the Welsh Assembly Government.

They also come ahead of the elections for every local authority in Wales on 1 May.

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) said councils had worked "vigorously" to ensure council tax was kept low while not cutting services.

But it called for more resources in the future.

Newport councillor Bill Langsford, WLGA's finance spokesperson, said: "Again at this early stage we call on the Welsh Assembly Government to rethink its budget assumptions over the next three years and place real emphasis on closing the funding gap between schools in Wales and England and prioritise our social services."

Gareth Winston Roberts, leader of Anglesey Council, said the authority was able to set the country's lowest council tax increase without dipping into its reserves.

"The executive managed to keep the council tax increase to a minimum as we were prudent enough to have prepared ourselves for a bad settlement and had lined up a number of budget savings during the past year," he said.

Local Government Minister Dr Brian Gibbons said he was "encouraged" by the "prudent" council tax increases.

He said: "The Welsh Assembly Government has provided a fair settlement to local authorities in Wales in a challenging period for public sector finances and I have maintained that I would not expect the council tax increase in any Welsh local authority to exceed 5% in the coming year."



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SEE ALSO
Union talks over council job cuts
07 Feb 07 |  Mid Wales
Homeowners 'must check tax band'
25 Jan 07 |  Business
Council warns of tax bill rise
19 Dec 06 |  North West Wales

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