MEMBERS of the cabinet have given themselves a pat on the back for being able to get Powys County Council (PCC) more money from the Welsh Government.

On Tuesday, January 21, PCC’s cabinet met and approved the 2020/21 draft budget.

The budget will see Powys residents have to put their hands in their pockets yet again to fund a five per cent rise in council tax.

This comes on top of a 9.5 per cent rise this year and is despite a rise of £9.5 million in funding from the Welsh Government which is a cash increase of 5.4 per cent.

This boils down to 4.2 per cent once grants and transfers are taken into effect and part of the budget will be to make £11 million in cuts.

Portfolio Holder for Finance, Aled Davies (Conservative – Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant & Llansilin) said: “I know we are looking at five per-cent again even though we had a better settlement and I am acutely aware of the affordability of the council tax, but we have to balance that against protecting our services.

Mr Daviies added that PCC was putting £6 million more into education and £5 million more into children’s services.

“I think we got the balance right in this budget,” said Mr Davies.

Portfolio Holder for  Economic Development, Housing and Regulatory Services, Cllr James Evans, (Conservative, Gwernyfed), said: “I can remember 12 months ago when we went down as a delegation to the Senedd to try and lobby the Welsh Government for more money.

“The opposition in this council criticised us, pulled us over the coals for it and were laughing.

“My view on that is: who’s laughing now?

“We have seen an increase in our budget settlement for the first time in a decade.

“That’s down to the work of this Independent/Conservative administration who have been working together since we came in to cabinet for our residents.

“We’re very lucky that the Prime Minister pass-ported money down to the Welsh Government to give us more funding and I’m glad this has been passed on to local authorities.”

Council Leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris, (Independent – Llangynidr), added: “We did go down and knock on doors. We talked to civil servants, assembly members and government ministers and I have to say after 10 years of being on the bottom of the list we are very pleased to be higher up, 14 out of 22.

“It’s a big improvement for Powys, the pressures of delivering services over a huge rural area have been enormous.

But head of finance and S151 officer, Jane Thomas, gave a word of warning: “The local government settlement for 2020/21 does provide Powys with an increased level of funding not seen in over a decade, but there is no indication that this level of funding will continue beyond one year.

The draft budget will now go on to be looked at by PCC’s scrutiny committees and will be discussed at a full council meeting on February 28.

It is expected that the Welsh Government will finalise its local government budget settlement on February 25.

The provisional settlement is that Powys receives £184.289 million from the Welsh Government and the total budget for next year is set o be £269.6 million.