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Pembrokeshire County Council must find £8.6m of savings over three years - with council tax set to rise 2.5%

First published in News

Already stretched council tax payers look set to be hit with a further 2.5% rise in their bills this year.

The proposed budget, which was seen by cabinet members on Monday, suggested the council tax for Pembrokeshire for 2013/14 to be set at £741.17 for Band D properties - an increase of £21.24 or 2.95%.

The report by the director of leisure and finance also detailed proposed spending cuts of £8.6m over the next three years and called for a review of current services "to establish a framework whereby key services continue to be delivered and other service areas are prioritised within available resources."

The council intends to save £1.6m in 2013/14, £3.5m in 2014/15 and £3.5m in 2015/16, which is required to deal with a number of service pressures.

The pressures identified included: the protection of school budgets, adult social services, social worker retention and recruitment costs, pay and grading implementation costs, pay and price pressures, real terms reduction in Welsh Government grants, reduction of capital capacity through supported borrowing my ten per cent per annum, investment required for the 21st Century Schools Programme, the continued impact of the recession and the introduction of a new Council Tax Support Scheme.

The report highlighted the biggest risk as being "the service and demographic pressure within Adult Social Services.

"Failure to slow down the rate of increase in this budget will create ongoing cost reduction pressures over and above the aforementioned cost reduction target of £8.6m," the report added.

The proposed net social care adult service budget for 2013/14 is estimated at £43m - an increase of £4.6m on the original estimate and more than the one per cent planning assumptions used by the Welsh Government.

The council has estimated a £2.8m overspend on adult services by the end of the current financial year.

At Monday's meeting, Pembrokeshire County Council leader Jamie Adams said: "We will have to ask ours what's desirable and what's necessary."

He added: "There will have to be some difficult decisions going forward."

The proposed total council budget requirement is £211.2m and included £88.6m for education.  The budget will be set by full council at the end of February.

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