Council tax in Wales: How much is my bill going up?

Care in home
The rising cost of social care has added to council funding pressures

Councils in Wales face trying to plug funding gaps of at least £330m in the coming year. The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) has estimated the shortfall could be as high as £432m.

Council taxes are proposed to rise by varied amounts - between 3% in Cardiff, to about 16% in Pembrokeshire.

The next few weeks will see councils decide how much each of us will pay, and how they will balance their books and provide essential services at a time of intense cost pressures.

How much will council tax cost this year?

This is how proposed council tax rises look across Wales.

Conwy is still looking at savings before deciding on a figure.

Council tax chart
Council tax chart

On average, for those living in a Band D home in the most recent year, households paid £1,879.46 a year.

But council taxes make up only some of the money which pays for local government services, which range from social care, education to waste collection and libraries and leisure centres.

Where else does the money come from?

Every year, each council gets grant funding from the Welsh government. On average, this has gone up 3.1% for the coming year.

But some councils got more than others. Newport council has an extra 4.7%, while Conwy and Gwynedd have each had only a 2% rise.

Conwy council said it had the highest proportion (27%) of over-65s in Wales and the funding formula did not take this into account, and the rising cost of social care for the elderly hit it hard.

It said it may be "forced to consider a range of unpalatable decisions on the level and quality of the services that we provide, which will impact negatively on our residents".

How much are the budget shortfalls?

Funding map
Funding map

Councils are still working to find ways of saving money and looking at where they can find efficiencies, even in those areas which they have a duty by law to provide.

One current estimate shows there are some £331m worth of savings councils need to find. Local government leaders have estimated it could be as high as £432m.

Why are things costing so much?

Inflation - the rising cost of energy and fuel for example - and paying the real living wage are two of the cost pressures.

Because councils are responsible for some services by law - like social services and environmental health - there can be little room for manoeuvre when costs go up.

That can leave other services, like libraries and leisure centres, more vulnerable.

Councils this year are reporting significant pressures on the demand and cost of social care and children's services particularly.

Wrexham council, for example, has seen its social care budget rise by 49% in four years but said demand outstripped the funding available. The authority is still looking to find £9.2m to balance its overall budget.

In Pembrokeshire, children's social care costs have risen from 6% of its budget to more than 10% in five years.

But if it did not look to any budget savings, council taxes in Pembrokeshire would have to rise by 42% to balance the books.

Ceredigion council faces a £14.6m budget shortfall and is set to propose a 13.9% council tax increase. It has called it the "starkest budget yet and worse than was previously forecast."

The smallest council, Merthyr Tydfil, still has a £13m shortfall and called the position "incredibly challenging". Another small council, Torfaen, has said it hopes to balance its books after making £5.2m of internal savings.

What has been the response?

The WLGA said councils have lost £1bn in income over recent years, leaving "mammoth funding gaps."

Anglesey councillor Llinos Medi, the leader of the Plaid Cymru group at the WLGA, said last week's Welsh government announcement of an extra £25m for councils "won't touch the sides of the gaping black holes in our local services' budgets."

WLGA leader Andrew Morgan, who heads RCT council, said the scale of the pressures meant "extremely difficult decisions" will still need to be taken including raising council tax rates and around service provision.

The Welsh government, meanwhile, blames the funding it in turn gets from the UK government, and said it had to take some really difficult decisions to radically reshape its budget.

"We recognise the settlement falls short of the funding needed to meet all the inflationary pressures being faced by services and that local authorities face difficult decisions as they set their budgets," it said. "It is important they engage meaningfully with their local communities as they consider their priorities for the forthcoming year."

Meanwhile, councils will make final decisions on their budgets - and set the level of council tax - by the end of the first week in March.