Council tax in Pembrokeshire would have to nearly double a proposed increase if second homes money isn’t used to help the council balance its budget, senior councillors heard.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, meeting today, February 13, considered three council tax options for 2023-24, set against a funding gap of £18.6m, and a projected funding gap £50.7m up to 2027.

The three options were: an increase of five per cent, seven-and-a-half per cent and 10 per cent.

Cabinet Member for Corporate Finance Alec Cormack proposed a 7.5 per cent increase to fellow members, which would increase the annual bill of the average Band D property by £62.46, to £1,311.63.

Cllr Cormack, who had warmed to a 10 per cent increase before compromising on 7.5, said that the lower alternative, five per cent, would “severely impact on council services”.

The 7.5 per cent increase – which will be considered by full council on March 2, would be coupled with budget savings of £8.055m.

Members heard the ’23-’24 gap will need to be bridged by a combination of an increase in council tax, using of 75 per cent of the second homes council tax revenue, an estimated use of £1.6m of reserves, and budget savings.

Cllr Cormack warned the council tax increase would have to be raised to 12.9 per cent to balance the budget if full council didn’t support using 75 per cent of the second homes council tax premium.

Second homes in Pembrokeshire currently pay double the standard council tax rate.

Using 75 per cent of the second homes premium would free up some £3.7m, which would fund services such as the Youth Service, homelessness, housing standards, street cleaning, parks and open spaces and public toilets, members heard.

Cllr Cormack stated: “The council is facing a huge funding gap, the measures I outline here, I feel, strike a balance; nobody will be happy with this budget, there are cuts across the board, what I hope is there will be a broad support, first in Cabinet and then in council that this will be the least bad option.”

Councillor Michelle Bateman said: “More now than ever this is a budget of compromise. Do I want to use 75 per cent of that fund? No. But do I want to make cuts? The answer is ‘no’.

“No-one’s a winner in this budget, the best we can hope for is we come away thinking we’ve done the best that we can for residents.

“This isn’t just a Pembrokeshire issue, this is an issue across Wales; every councillor – not just in Pembrokeshire – is having to have similar conversations.”

Members agreed to support the recommendation to full council of the 7.5 per cent increase, using the second homes council tax element.


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