Given the comments on my previous post I think a brief lesson on why Council taxes have been going up is in order:
Council tax is largely determined by the amount of money which a local authority (eg Monmouthshire County Council) receives from the Assembly. The lower that amount is, the more council taxes have to rise to make up the difference.
There are two reasons why council taxes have risen each year at levels that are way above the rate of inflation.
The first is that the each year the Council faces a rise in their costs, often due to initiatives which are imposed by the Assembly without being properly funded. The Council has faced a rise in costs because of these extra regulations such as the Teachers Workload Agreement. The difference between what the Council gets from the Assembly and what it has to spend is made up by the Council tax.
The second problem is that formula which is used to determine how much money each local authority gets from the Assembly, (and therefore how much extra they will have to levy in Council tax to meet their costs) is shamelessly skewed against more rural areas such as Monmouthshire.
Monmouthshire suffers from the misconception that it is a “leafy area” which, to quote the former leader of Blainau Gwent, “can afford to pay.” This is simply not true, but on top of the poverty that exists here the costs of maintaining services in a rural area are much greater than in neighbouring urban areas. Road maintenance alone will be vastly more expensive, and as the Free Press recently reported Council officials are warning that the roads are turning into cart tracks because of a lack of upkeep.
This County also has a relatively high elderly population many of whom need help from social services. None of this is properly factored into the formula which the Assembly use to decide how much money to give to each of the 22 local authorities so our taxes go up.
On numerous occasions both inside and out of the Assembly I have spoken out about this issue and highlighted the way in which Monmouthshire is being short-changed. Money which should be coming into this area as of right is being diverted to other local authorities which, in many cases, have consistently failed to spend to within their targets.
The Conservative group in the Welsh Assembly have been trying to get changes to the formula used for distributing funding to local authorities so that it properly reflects the genuine needs of each area of Wales.