Councils in Wales have seemingly contracted Council Tax increase fever. For the past number of weeks we have seen increases of nearly 5 per cent in a substantial number of local authorities. Unlike the majority of councils in England who have received a grant to freeze Council Tax bills, councils in Wales are squeezing residents till the pips squeak.
Powys Council - after being on the receiving end of a protest from residents - failed to agree upon methods to reduce their deficit, It seems that this was down to an argument over the closure of special education units. After a meeting lasting several hours they have now rescheduled, with consideration being given to a further increase in Council Tax from the initially proposed 3.95 per cent to a whopping 4.95 per cent. And with this, they need to make further savings of £20m for the next financial year.
But it's not right that the offered option is simply special education units or Council Tax hikes. That's a false choice and it's unfair to portray it in that way to residents. Expenditure can be reduced elsewhere.
It's an increasingly common tactic - take a service that will evoke a strong reaction, threaten closures, and say the only way to keep them open is with tax hikes. That simply won't do, and councils must wage a war on waste before offering up bleeding stumps.