PLANS to raise council tax in Newport by 6.95 per cent are “modest” compared to other Welsh local authorities, the council’s leader has said.

Councillor Debbie Wilcox said the proposed rise is necessary amidst falling local government funding and “the longest period of austerity since Napoleonic times”.

The proposal is one of many that were approved for consultation by senior councillors on Wednesday in a bid to save £8.1 million from next year’s budget.

“We’ve been working hard on these budget proposals but it’s like painting the Forth Bridge, it never stops,” said Cllr Wilcox.

“We’ve been trying our best to move Newport forward, providing services with the most reduced budget we’ve ever known.”

If changes to council tax are approved, it would mean Band D properties in Newport would pay an extra £1.41 a week. Newport’s council tax remains the second lowest in Wales and accounts for around 23 per cent of its income.

Cllr Wilcox continued: “A rise of 6.95 per cent seems high but our tax is £184 less than the Welsh average and most of our homes are in Bands B and C. The increase is more modest than the percentage suggests.”

Other savings that will be consulted on include increased charges for parking permit charges and special waste collections, and staff cuts within schools, reduced customer services hours at the council’s Information Station and a reduction in voluntary sector grants.

Combined the proposals will save the council £1.9 million, with £6.2 million in cuts including the withdrawal from the SenCom support service already agreed.

READ MORE: Newport City Council plan to pull out of SenCom support service without consulting parents 'unacceptable', says Torfaen AM Lynne Neagle

But the council is planning to invest around £8.5 million in its most demanding services, including £3.1 million for schools and £3.8 million for social care.

“We’re investing in social care to support the most vulnerable people in our communities,” said Cllr Wilcox.

“But I bet that the focus will be on the raising of council tax and not the things we’re doing for Newport.

“We need to stand firm and be honest with the people of Newport as to why we’re trying to balance this budget.”

READ MORE: Newport council overspend £4.9m on care services amid growing demand

The £3.1 million promised for schools represents a three per cent growth in school budgets but the responsible cabinet member, Councillor Gail Giles, said it was “still not enough”.

“It’s insufficient, which horrifies us, but we care very much about maintaining standards and supporting head teachers, staff and governing bodies who are under tremendous strain,” she added.

Councillor Roger Jeavons, cabinet member for Streetscene, said: “We deliver over 800 services to 151,000 people and we’ve done this with a quarter less of the workforce. If we were a company, what company would carry on providing these services having saved £45 million and cut staff?”