NPT Council Budget Consultation – Frequently Asked Questions and Suggestions Why doesn't the council stop spending on new buildings etc. to save money? The Council must provide certain services by law, and some of the funding we get (e.g. for regeneration) is ring fenced by the funding body for a particular purpose – this means we can't spend it on other things. Can you fund all of the short fall out of reserves to avoid putting Council Tax up? Reserves are money set aside to help councils manage financial risks to local services. Councils have to have reserves by law. Reserves can only be used once, so spending them to plug the budget gap would just delay difficult choices until next year and would mean that there would be no money for unforeseen events e.g. Covid, the Skewen Flood. You’ve lost all the money invested in Icelandic banks At the time the Council invested in Icelandic banks and their UK subsidiaries the banks had the highest possible credit rating. The £20m originally invested has now been repaid. What's the point in giving feedback on the budget proposals? It is important that residents, businesses and other local groups and organisations have their say on the proposals, so that any final decisions are as informed about the needs of Neath Port Talbot as possible. Why are we in NPT paying higher council tax than anywhere else? Neath Port Talbot has the third highest council tax in Wales. This is primarily a throwback to local government re-organisation in 1996 where this council received a disproportionately low share of Welsh Government funding compared to neighbouring authorities. It remains an ongoing issue which elected Members continue to lobby the Welsh Government to address. In 2020/21 Neath Port Talbot Council tax increase was 3.79% - the second lowest in Wales. “I pay my council tax, why should I have to sort out my rubbish/ recycling, it’s a waste of time and more work for me!” It’s easy to recycle. We have all developed the habit of putting rubbish in the bin, recycling is just developing a good habit instead of a bad one. You may be surprised to know that for most people in Neath Port Talbot less than 3.6% of their council tax goes towards waste collection and recycling, which is 80p per week. Remember, it’s the same rubbish just in separate bags, bins or boxes. Why don’t you cut business rates to help traders in our town centres? In Wales local authorities are not responsible for Business Rates. The Rateable Value (RV) of premises, which is a hypothetical rental value, is set by the Valuation Office (Central Government) and a multiplier applied to the RV is set by the Welsh Government. Councils in Wales are simply the billing authority, in so much as they send out the bills and collect the money on behalf of the Welsh Government. During the Covid pandemic the Welsh Government have provided a package of business rates relief that has assisted 3,000 businesses. This meant that they did not pay any business rates in 2020/21. Why do we need a Mayor? What do they do? The Mayor has a specific role to play for the council. There is a statutory requirement for someone to chair the meeting of full council, a role the Mayor performs. As first citizen of Neath Port Talbot, the Mayor undertakes in excess of 300 engagements each year, representing the county borough at formal events, and supporting and encouraging community cohesion. The Mayor also raises a significant amount of money for charities. For more information, visit www.npt.gov.uk/mayor Why don’t you cut the number of councillors to save money? Councillors play an important role in representing their wards and the people who live in them. The Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales is responsible for conducting reviews of local authority electoral arrangements, including the number of councillors. For more information, visit: https://bcomm-wales.gov.uk/. The council is unable to make alterations to council size, only Welsh Government can enact such changes. Don't give NPT council staff a pay rise this year? Pay for council workers is decided nationally by a number of national negotiating bodies, including the National Joint Council for Local Government Services, the Joint National Council for Chief Officers, the Joint National Council for Chief Executives, the Youth and Community Workers Council, and the Soulbury Committee. In the case of school teachers, their pay is determined by Welsh Government. Council services are delivered by people, and most of the people we employ live and work in this County Borough. We want to ensure that council services are the best they can be, so our pay policy seeks to ensure we can attract, retain and motivate the best employees with the right skills to deliver our services. This, of course, has to be balanced against the need to ensure value for money for the local council taxpayer. The council is one of the main employers in this area and it is important that the council can offer good quality employment on reasonable terms and conditions and fair rates of pay. This will have a beneficial impact on the quality of life within the community as well as on the local economy. Do Council staff park for free in "pay and display" car parks? No. All staff are required to pay to park in the council’s “pay and display” or civic office car parks in accordance with the “Staff and Member Car Parking Scheme” Why don't you stop paying bonuses to staff? NPT Council employees do not get paid bonuses. Can you cut the number of staff and/or not replace them when they leave or retire? The Council has had a year on year programme of headcount reduction since 2013, reducing the headcount of the Council by approximately 25% over that period. The Council’s Recruitment Policy requires line managers to consider whether any vacant post needs to be replaced, and to review whether there is an alternative to that. The recruitment policy also requires jobs to be firstly considered for any employees who are at risk of redundancy and the Council has had a successful policy of avoiding compulsory redundancy whilst continuing to reduce headcounts.