A petition opposing the 9.5 per cent council tax increase in Powys has been launched.

The online petition, on the website Change.org, currently has almost 500 signatures, and was set up by the Facebook group 'Help re-generate and rejuvenate Newtown'.

The petition says: "On 21 February 2019 Powys County Councillors will vote on whether to increase the PCC (main) part of our Council Tax by 9.5%. If you live in a band D property, the PCC part of your council cax would go up by £112.97 This would be on top of the increases to pay to the Community/Town Council plus Heddlu Dyfed Powys Police.

"Why the 9.5% increase? Because Powys Council has overspent £6.1 million in a failing Social Services department. At its meeting on 24 Oct 2018 the council’s Audit Committee Meeting said there would be a £5.82 million overspend by March 2019 and that the “overspend will be met from reserves”. The same Audit Committee stated that Powys Council has “reserves of approximately £28.3 million.” The following month; 16 November 2018, the same Audit Committee reported that the Social Services overspend had increased to more than £6 million.

"In January 2019, the council’s financial consultants prepared a report about the budget from 1 April 2019 saying that the £6.1 million overspend in Social Services is at the heart of a 9.5% increase in the Council Tax.

"Councillors now expect residents to pay for the overspend that it did not consult us about in the first place. By signing this petition you are telling councillors that

[a] you do not support a 9.5% increase in your Council Tax

[b] you do not authorise Councillors to vote in support of a 9.5% increase

[c] you expect Council reserves to be used to fund Council overspending

[d] you expect Councillors to balance the budget to stop any overspending from

1 March 2019

[e] you expect Councillors to report on its website every month; in a clear format, that it has balanced the budget that month.

"It's time to have your say about how you spend your money - none of us will be getting a 9.5% increase in our wages, pensions or benefits."

Full council will be considering the budget this Thursday (February 21).

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Aled Davies said: “I am recommending a budget strategy that seeks to support key services such as children and adult services as well as schools while doing all that we can to protect other services. However, the proposed council tax increase is 9.5%.

“The council has been in the unenviable position of having the poorest settlement in Wales in nine out of the last 10 years, leaving the council in a difficult financial position. We have to fund key services and ensure we support children in need and vulnerable adults, whether in their own homes or in our care, and we have to invest in education.

“With schools and social care dominating our budget, the pressure on remaining services is greater than ever. This year’s budget has been the hardest faced by the council when seeking to balance service provision with resident’s ability to pay.

“Throughout the process our priority has been to maximise efficiencies, reducing our running costs where possible, this will mean a reduction in staff in many areas and pressure on others to reduce the level of provision.

“Along with the budget saving proposals we are recommending a 9.5 per cent increase in the level of council tax. This will add around £9.41p a month to the average Band d council tax bill. The figure does not include increases in the Dyfed Powys Police charge or that from town and community councils.

“We know the increase will be a challenge for some but it is the minimum we could recommend to protect vital services,” he added.

To view the petition, click here.