COUNCIL Tax is set to rise by an inflation busting five per cent in April, as Powys County Council announced its budget plans for the coming year.

The council's cabinet unanimously approved the proposals at its meeting on Tuesday, January 30, and a draft budget will now go before a full council meeting on Thursday, February 22.

The move comes with the council receiving a cut in the funding it receives from the Welsh Government of 0.4 per cent and the outlook remains bleak for Powys with further cuts expected in the 19/20 settlement. Powys is one of 10 local authorities to receive a cut to its settlement – 13 have received an increase from the Government.

Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Aled Davies, said: "Powys, along with nine other councils, will see a cut in the funding it receives from Welsh Government in April. It takes a 2.4 per cent increase in Powys Council Tax to replace every one per cent cut from Welsh Government.

"Powys County Council’s net budget this year will increase from £240 million to £247 million due to that essential investment. However a £17 million shortfall remains in the 2019/20 budget. The scale of action required in the next years will drive huge change across the council."

Councillor Davies says savings of around £8.5m have been identified as part of the budget, and that local authorities must be prepared to face the "new reality" of continued austerity cuts, but that capital spending on core infrastructure projects such as schools and housing would go ahead.

"Maintaining the capital programme is vital for the regeneration of the county’s economy as well as reducing the council’s running costs.

"The average council tax paid in Powys is the third highest in Wales and I am acutely aware that affordability is a big issue when wages, in real terms, have been static for a number of years. We must try to deliver even better value for money for our residents and continue to care for our most vulnerable residents."

The council says the proposed council tax increase will provide an extra £3.5 million, which will only part fund the increased investment of £12.8 million in vital services for children and the elderly.

"The council faces significant challenges over the next few years due to increasing demand and cost pressures but we are committed to rebuild our Children's and Adults' services through this extra investment and addressing the past failures.

"We must protect those least able to look after themselves. A further £1 million is also being given to schools to help them deal with inflationary pressures," he added.

"We face huge challenges over the next years but there are also great opportunities to reshape service delivery and support economic growth to enable our children to have great careers and exciting lives here in Powys."