COUNCIL tax payers already managing tightly squeezed household budgets look set to be dealt another blow.

Proposals for Pembrokeshire County Council’s 2014/15 budget include a 3.4% increase in council tax to help the council make £20m savings in two years.

If approved, council tax for Band D properties will increase by £25.38, from £741.17 to £766.55, generating an extra £1.5m income.

The proposed increase is double that of the 1.7% rise in 2012/13 and up from last year’s 2.95% increase.

The budget is to go before cabinet on Monday (January 13).

According to a report prepared for members by the council’s director of finance and leisure, Mark Lewis, the 2014/15 budget “has been developed against the backdrop of the most difficult financial settlement” in the council’s 18-year history.

Its initial target of £7m savings over the next two years has nearly trebled to £20m – including £12.9m in 2014/15 - following a 3.7% reduction in Welsh Government funding.

The previous year, the Welsh Government indicated a 0.9% funding increase for 2014/15 and there are now concerns over the reliability of indications of a 1.5% reduction for 2015/16.

The report stated the next two years will be “extremely challenging”. It added: “Pay and price increases, allied to demographic pressure within adult social services and the protection of schools budgets will accentuate the scale of the cost reduction programme across other services.

“The scale of the challenge ahead is such that a whole range of new service delivery arrangements will need to be brought forward to ensure that sustainable cost/service reductions can be made within a short timescale.”

The total budget requirement for 2014/15 is £207.2m, down from £211.8m in 2013/14.

Council housing rents also look set to increase. Proposals detailed in a separate report by Mr Lewis, also due to go before cabinet on Monday, include a 2.5% rent increase for 2014/15 to take effect from April 7 2014.

This will increase the average weekly council house rent from £64.12 to £65.72.