Agenda item

Council Tax 2023-24


The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change presented a report providing Council with details of the council tax requirement for the County Borough Council, together with the requirements of the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales and Town and Community Councils, and  seeking Council approval of the Band D council tax for Bridgend County Borough Council and the community areas for 2023-24.


The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change explained that in accordance with the Local Government Finance Act 1992, the Council had to calculate its budget requirement and formally approve the Council tax for the coming year. In addition, as a billing authority, Bridgend County Borough Council was also required to calculate the basic amount of Council tax for dwellings within the area, which related to one or more special items. This Council collected the council tax on behalf of Town and Community Councils within the area and also the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales. The Council had agreed a net budget requirement for the Council for the coming financial year of £342 million. This equated to a council tax of £1675.26 on a band D property.


The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change explained that the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales had notified the Council that their precept for the coming financial year had been agreed and their precept on a band D property would increase to £324.47. This was a 7.4% increase for the coming year. The Town and Community Councils budget requirement for the coming year was an average .92% increase for 2023-2024. The total average band D council tax requirement for the coming year for all areas of Bridgend, and a further breakdown of the counter tax for each area detailing the amount payable to this Council was as shown in table 7 of the report.


A Member asked if there could be a vote on this bearing in mind that the budget had already been passed and if those Members who sat on Town and Community Councils should declare an interest. The Monitoring Officer replied that in terms of the interest, there was no need to declare a prejudicial interest. The budget had been passed by Council and her advice was if the council tax wasn’t approved at this stage, they would be frustrating the will of Council.


The Member referred to the cost-of-living crisis and asked what the process was for recovering missed payments and if the authority was flexible in these circumstances. The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change replied that there were a number of processes in place to support people who were in difficulty with regards to meeting their council tax. If people wanted to pay in instalments, they could pay over 12 months as opposed to 10, which eased it for some people. They also checked to see whether or not they would be entitled to any benefits or anything that they may not be aware of. There was the Council tax reduction scheme as well, which was £16 million in the revenue budget to support people should they be having difficulties with their council tax, and the Council had in past years put more money into that for exactly the reason that had been identified. 


A Member asked the Leader if he believed Welsh Government was doing all it could to help authorities in Wales. The Leader replied that the First Minister was on record as saying that he had a concern about the impact of increasing the income tax on some of the people on the lowest incomes in in Wales and the potential regressive impact of an increase in the basic rate of income tax. In terms of the higher rate of income tax, there was a much smaller base in Wales and other parts of the UK and the revenue that would be generated from that was not considered significant. Welsh Government were currently considering their options in terms of raising income and they were certainly looking at the council tax system. The outcome of the consultation of the council tax system would be reported back and there would be some changes following on from that.


A Member stated that there was no comparison in the report with the other local authorities and that BCBC had the 4th highest level out of the 22 authorities in Wales. He asked if an analysis had been undertaken on affordability levels and what impact an increase would have on collection rates. The Deputy Head of Finance replied that the collection rate was reviewed annually and was actually brought down in pandemic. It was a combination of looking at the collection rate and what measures could be put in place to support residents. With regard to affordability, the Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change explained that they were always monitoring collection rates and this was reflected when they brought the council tax base forward for approval back in December. It would never be set at a level which they did not think was achievable.


The Cabinet Member for Resources explained that when they used averages, they could give some kind of guidance of the average across Wales to refer to how authorities were funded. Within that range, there were a number of properties below a band D and a number above. The majority of properties in BCBC were below band D and this affected the overall average position in that table. A more affluent authority with a greater number of properties above band D would be different and therefore it was not really relevant where they were in that table. The Member replied that he had the Stats Wales table in front of him and BCBC was exponentially higher than most local authorities across the board.


Following a Member request, a recorded vote was conducted, the result of which was as follows:


For: Councillors S Aspey, H Bennett, JP Blundell, E Caparros, R Collins, HJ David, Colin Davies, P Davies, M Evans, N Farr, P Ford, J Gebbie, R Goode, RM Granville, H Griffiths, S Griffiths, M Hughes, RM James, M Jones, M Kearn, W Kendall, JC Spanswick, G Walter, H Williams, R Williams, E Winstanley = 26 votes


Against: Councillors A Berrow, F Bletsoe, S Bletsoe, N Clarke, Chris Davies, S Easterbrook, D Harrison, D Hughes, P Jenkins, M John, R Smith, I Spiller, R Penhale-Thomas, J Pratt, T Thomas, A Wathan, Amanda Williams, I Williams, M Williams, T Wood = 20 votes


The recommendations of the report were carried.


RESOLVED:                That Council approved:


• a Band D Council Tax for Bridgend County Borough Council of £1,675.26 for 2023-24, and

• the Council Tax charges for Band D properties for 2023-24 for each of the community areas as outlined in Table 7 of the report.


Supporting documents: