Wales politics

Average Welsh council tax bill £171 below England's

Mark Drakeford
Image caption Mark Drakeford is both finance and local government secretary

Figures have confirmed that council tax remains lower in Wales than England.

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said the figures showed Welsh councils were protected from the worst of Westminster imposed cuts.

The statistics show the average Band D council tax in Wales in 2017-18 is £1,420 - £171 less than in England.

But the Conservatives accused ministers of "shameless spin" and the Liberal Democrats said some Welsh councils had seen "eye-watering" council tax rises.

The average rise in Band D council tax in England is 4%, compared to 3.3% in Wales.

And this the first time in nine years that Wales' Band D increase has been lower than England's.

In cash terms, the average increase is £46, with Powys taxpayers seeing the biggest rise, of £62. The lowest annual rise is £19, in Caerphilly.

The highest Band D charge is £1,754 in Blaenau Gwent, which has fewer properties rated at that level than anywhere else in Wales - around 1,500.

The lowest is £1,128 in Pembrokeshire, which has some 10,850 band D homes.

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Mr Drakeford said: "Councils here are facing some real financial challenges but these latest figures show we are protecting local government from the worst of the cuts handed down by Westminster and, in doing so, protecting the taxpayer; a situation that has not been replicated on the other side of the border.

"In 2017-18, we are increasing funding for local government by £10m compared to 2016-17.

"Under the funding floor we introduced in the Local Government Settlement, no council will have to manage on less than 99.5% of the cash provided to them last year, and most will have more."

'Eye-watering increases'

But Conservative local government spokesman Janet Finch-Saunders said: "The average Welsh worker gets paid around £4,500 a year less than in England, so Labour's claims to have lower council tax bills is disgraceful."

"Across Wales, the average Band D property has faced cumulative council tax hikes of around £627 since 2012 and residents know that it is only a Conservative council that will fight for fairer council tax bills."

Former Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black, the party's local government spokesman, said that "while the average council tax bill in Wales is lower than in England, we've still seen eye-watering increases by some local councils year on year".

"Council tax is one of the most unfair taxes in society, and hits the poorest hardest, which is why we will deliver better, more effective public services so no community is left behind," he said.

Plaid Cymru AM Sian Gwenllian said through a budget deal with ministers and by putting pressure on the Labour administration in Cardiff Bay her party had secured extra money for local government and help with council tax bills for lower income households.

"Plaid Cymru has always taken action to secure a fair deal for council taxpayers, as well as protecting our vital local services," she said.

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