A Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd has called for the Government in Wales to issue advice on the use of local authority reserves to ease the burden on council tax payers.
Peredur Owen Griffiths, who represents the South Wales East region, asked the Labour Finance Minister for action on this so that the burden of filling public finance gaps does not automatically fall on already hard-pressed households.
One of the constituencies within South Wales East is Blaenau Gwent which, despite being one of the poorest constituencies in Wales, has the highest council tax.
According to the 2019 Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation, Blaenau Gwent is the constituency with the highest number of Lower-layer Super Output Areas (85.1%) in the most deprived 50% of areas of Wales.
Mr Owen Griffiths said: “COVID has undoubtedly had a big impact on public finances and local authorities have been no exception.
“The way in which the public sector has come together and given up resources to help in the fight against the pandemic has been inspiring. I'm also aware that some councils in Wales have been unable to spend some of their budgets, as operations have ceased or been curtailed in certain sectors.
“For example, I'm aware of some community councils who have built up significant reserves as the things that they normally spend money on, they haven't been able to because those have been on stop.
“Is there any advice that this Government can issue to councils, whether it county or community, about the use of reserves in mitigating against the impact of reduced income in other areas, and easing the burden on council tax payers?”
In reply, the Finance Minister said: “Of course, if there is additional income now in reserve, I think it could be an opportunity for local authorities and those local town and community councils to be considering what their contribution might be as we move into the recovery, and what their own local communities are telling them that they would like to see that investment in.”
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