Residents will be shocked to see the news that the Welsh Government is consulting on radical changes to council tax aimed at reducing council tax bills in areas like the South Wales Valleys where bills are already low, but increasing bills still further in areas where they are already high, in rural areas like the Vale of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire.
An independent report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has analysed the Welsh Government’s proposals and concluded that the likely impact on Monmouthshire is a council tax rise of up to 16% on top of any annual increases the Council’s Cabinet puts forward each year. A proposal previously mooted by the Welsh Government of creating three further council tax bands J, K and L would increase council tax in the county by a shocking 28%. This proposal hasn’t been included in the current consultation, but gives some insight into the options that have been under consideration.
A cynic will have noticed that those areas supposedly likely to benefit from cheaper council tax are more urban Valleys communities or cities, likely represented by the Labour Party, while the areas set to be stung by higher council tax bills are more rural and more likely to be represented by other parties.
Many of us remember the last revaluation the Welsh Government carried out in 2004, where there were many more losers than winners, with many households being shunted up several council tax bands forcing them to pay higher bills.
These plans don’t take any account of the fact it’s more expensive to live in a rural area in terms of both cost of living and house prices. Many people scrimp and save to be able to afford a property in Monmouthshire given how high house prices are. In rural areas, fuel prices are much higher due to increased transportation costs and you have to travel further to access shops and services.
A 16% rise on top of modelled increases of 3.95% (which are likely to be increased further) next year and in 2025, would see average band D council tax in Monmouthshire rise to at least £2,443.81, for Band F £3,529.92 and for the highest band I properties an eye-watering £5,702.22. These would be crippling bills for so many hardworking families, older people on fixed incomes as well as younger people trying to get on in life. The consultation is open until 6th February 2024: https://www.gov.wales/node/57464/respond-online