Opposition Group Leader Richard John writes:
At the council’s most recent meeting of all councillors I asked the new administration about their position on the Welsh Government’s consultation on the future of council tax.
The Welsh Government is drawing up plans to reform the tax and the implications for Monmouthshire residents could be quite severe.
Ministers are likely to recommend a full revaluation of every property in Wales for the purposes of council tax and the creation of additional council tax bands, effectively a J, K and L. As Monmouthshire has more properties in the existing bands F, G, H and I, it is likely that residents here will be most likely to be forced into even higher bands, even though many of these residents will already be facing eye-watering bills.
When you compare levels across council tax across different councils, it always looks like many other councils chare higher rates. Council tax bills for a band D property in Blaenau Gwent are higher than in Monmouthshire, but in Blaenau Gwent there are not many band D properties – the majority are bands A or B, whereas in Monmouthshire we have many properties at the higher end of the scale because property values are higher.
But what the Welsh Government often doesn’t recognise is that just because you rent or own an expensive property, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a larger income and can afford a higher council tax bill.
Indeed, in Monmouthshire many younger people are priced out of their community because they can’t afford a home. The likely changes from Welsh Government risk making it even more expensive to live in Monmouthshire, when we should be taking steps in the opposite direction to make it more affordable and rebalance our economy.
Monmouthshire already receives the lowest per head funding of any council in Wales. Currently, Monmouthshire County Council receives £1,174 per person, yet some neighbouring councils receive as much as £1,811 per person. If Monmouthshire was funded just to the Welsh average, the council would have an additional £40million to spend on frontline services every year. But in the eyes of Welsh Government Monmouthshire is an affluent middle-class area where everyone can afford to pay for their services through council tax.
I fear that this attitude could hurt Monmouthshire residents even more in the near future. I hope that councillors of all political groups will work together to oppose any changes which will disproportionately hit Monmouthshire residents.
County Councillor for Mitchel Troy and Trellech United
Leader, Monmouthshire Conservatives
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