AN extra two per cent council tax rise will be recommended to “bridge the gap” in Ceredigion’s schools budget to “ensure and maintain the standard of education of the county.”

Council leader Cllr Ellen ap Gwynn put forward the proposal at cabinet on Tuesday (February 5) following feedback from scrutiny committees considering the draft 2019-20 budget for Ceredigion County Council.

A council tax rise of five per cent was proposed but a further two per cent – totalling a seven per cent increase – would generate an extra £668,000 which if allocated to schools would keep their budgets at a “standstill.”

“I make this very clear that this will not give an increase to their budget, all it will do is retain a school’s budget on what they are at the moment, ” said Cllr ap Gwynn.

She criticised the level of funding from central and Welsh government for both local government and more specifically for schools facing pressure from an increase in teacher pay and pensions.

Not adding the extra two per cent – a five per cent rise – would mean there was not enough money for schools already dealing with “quite a few cut backs and quite a few staff have been made redundant,” added Cllr ap Gwynn, adding further teachers could be lost in that situation.

Ceredigion faces finding a further £6million of savings next year “on top of £39million that has already been saved in the last few years” she said, highlighting that this had meant more than 700 job losses.

“I live in hope that there will be something brought forward to assist us, both the general situation of the county, not just the county council, but the economy in general.

“There are huge pressures out there at the moment,” said Cllr ap Gwynn, calling on councillors to make a ”difficult choice.”

The funding of sixth forms was raised as an issue by Cllr Ceredig Davies but they are funded by Welsh Government not the council budget.

The final decision on the council’s draft budget and seven per cent council tax rise will be made by all members at full council on February 21.