In his regular blog for Caerphilly Observer, Caerphilly Council leader Lindsay Whittle gives his take on recent news.
This week I wanted to highlight the impact Government cuts are likely to have on people on housing benefits.
The council has had £162,000 cut from its annual grant to administer the scheme for the Department of Work and Pensions and that comes at a time when demand for help from the public in these very difficult economic times continues to grow.
The DWP has ordered a five per cent cut every year for three years but with a reduction in staff it means that people in real need will face the real possibility of delays in their claims through no fault of the council.
Benefits are extremely complicated and the London-based Government would be better addressing that issue than ordering cuts affecting ordinary people.
No one likes paying tax, me included, but its necessary if we are to deliver quality public services which is my priority as council leader.
When setting council tax, the Plaid-led authority has been very conscious of the struggles many residents are facing because of the recession with jobs lost and incomes reduced.
This year the council tax rise in Caerphilly at 2.9% was the third lowest in Wales despite the toughest financial settlement since the Welsh Assembly was established in 1999.
We attempted to combine a council tax increase, which is as low as possible, with measures to address the financial austerity that will hit all of the public sector in the next few years. Last year’s council tax increase was incidentally the lowest in Wales.
It was great news that General Dynamics has won the contract to build a new light tank for the British Army creating 200 new jobs at Oakdale and Newbridge.
A further 250 posts will be safeguarded at the General Dynamics sites at Oakdale and Newbridge which is great news because the jobs are both highly skilled and well paid.
General Dynamics will build around 600 vehicles.
This Thursday evening I will be an attending a citizenship ceremony at the councils headquarters in Ystrad Mynach.
As readers may know this initiative was started more than six years ago for new citizens who are making their homes in the UK.
I know that many new citizens moving to Wales are anxious to integrate into our society and culture. I’d like to welcome them to Caerphilly. I can assure them it is a great area with great people, the most welcoming I know.
Plaid Cymru leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council