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WELSH ASSEMBLY MEMBERS CONDEMN WESTMINSTER PLAN TO INCREASE COUNCIL TAX

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There has been cross-party condemnation in the Welsh assembly of plans to increase council tax levels next year by ...
There has been cross-party condemnation in the Welsh assembly of plans to increase council tax levels next year by an average of 10%.

The Western Mail (p10) reports that the rise, being proposed by the Treasury, was revealed in papers discussed yesterday by the assembly's local government committee. It is intended to bring Wales more into line with English local authorities.

Local government secretary Peter Law appeared to make a barely-veiled criticism of the Westminster-generated plan. 'There's this Treasury philosophy - a policy - that we are driven to some extent by, that there should be annual 10% increases and that's had a fundamental effect on communities throughout Wales.

'It's based on a belief that the band D rate in England is 21% higher, but then Wales is different to England as far as we're concerned.'

Mr Law said he was very aware of calls for more investment in local government, pledging to make that case to Welsh finance secretary Edwina Hart. Labour AM Alison Halford also criticised the impending increase, saying that local authorities were not receiving enough money compared to their levels of responsibility.

Liberal Democrat Peter Black insisted anouther 10% rise was unacceptable. 'We've been through this pain once already. Another 10% increase and I think people in Wales would be quite justified in asking what the assembly's doing to tackle social exclusion yet increasing the burden they have to pay to get services.'

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