Plaid Cymru councillors in Caerphilly tonight condemned a 3.9% increase in council tax from April.
Labour rulers rejected an appeal to cut the rise to 2.4% put forward by Councillor Colin Mann, leader of the Plaid Cymru group.
In a statement to council, Councillor Mann said: “The Plaid group recognises the good parts of the budget proposals. We welcome the fact that there will be no service cuts. This has been largely helped, of course, by the £9m support from the Welsh Government when nothing was originally expected
“What does concern us, however, is that this budget could have been delivered at a lower cost to the council taxpayers of the county borough.
“For many people the council tax bill is the biggest monthly outlay they face, for others, second only to the mortgage payment. What justification is there that this council can ask our residents to find nearly 4% extra when inflation and wage rises are minimal?”
He went on: “Compared to 2018-19 Band D households will be paying an extra £14.42 per month from this April. Can this really be justified? I am sure that we all know friends, family or neighbours who are facing redundancy or have already lost their jobs.
“Only last week the Bevan Foundation pointed out that inequality in Wales is increasing with nearly a quarter of Welsh homes seeing a fall in income due to a mixture of redundancies and furlough pay. Do we really need to inflict more pain on them?
“Labour has traditionally been a party for those with a social conscience. Where is the social conscience of members of this council if you pass this budget rise this evening?
“Could I remind Labour members that Keir Starmer the Labour leader has appealed for there to be no rise at all in council tax.
“We feel that there is scope within the budget to save £849,000 which would mean reducing the proposed rise by 1.5%. We feel that the amount allowed for pay rises is certainly more than what will be needed.
“We fully support giving our employees proper pay rises but the sum included is more than is realistically needed. Another area is to get the industrial property rentals back on track. We also have concerns about the half-a-million pounds included for the Transformation Project. These people were initially employed on the basis that they would pay their way – at no extra cost to the authority. There is room in the budget to reduce the rise.”