HAY-ON-WYE residents face a 4.5 percent council tax hike for 2014/15 – sending the average Powys tax bill north of £1,000 for the first time ever.

Last week Powys County Council approved the increase as part of a budget that leader Barry Thomas called “one of the hardest ever”.

For the average household the tax hike will equate to around 85p a week, with the county council contribution rising from £962.11 to £1,005.40 annually for ‘band D’ properties.

Coun Thomas said: "Reducing our spending by such an amount was never going to be easy and our budget proposals were always likely to attract some criticism.

“But we have to balance the needs of providing statutory services such as education and social care, alongside those that are socially desirable while taking into account the county’s ability to pay.”

The tax rise goes alongside a £20m spending cut to be made by the council in attempt to balance the books over the upcoming financial year.

And consultations over the 2015/16 budget will start “as early as possible”, as the council aims to continue working with political groups and communities to get the best value out of its increasingly limited financial resources.

Coun Thomas said; "This year’s budget has been one of the hardest ever, with a significant cut in funding, ever increasing service pressures resulting in the need for a £20m reduction in spending.

"As part of this year’s budget discussions we held events across the county and shared our proposals with group leaders and all elected members as early as possible so that they could appreciate the scale of the challenges facing the council.”

Powys residents however will be asked to share the load.

The 4.5 percent rise works out as £43.29 a year for band D houses, and even without police and town council precepts of around £250 combined, it pushes the average bill into four figures.

For more information – and to read feedback on the budget – visit www.powys.gov.uk .