Andrew McKegney
By Andrew McKegney

Senior Staff Writer

2 March 2023

| | 1 min read

Council sets budget for 2023-24

Councillors in Newcastle have set a budget for 2023-24 to support communities in the cost-of-living crisis.

View of the city of Newcastle
Newcastle cityscape from the east

They agreed to spend £262m on public services and invest £140m in capital projects such as roads, housing, and schools.

Council Tax will rise by by 4% - less than the maximum of 5% - and the council will invest more into its Council Tax Reduction Scheme to lessen the impact on those least able to afford it.

 In 2023-24 the council will also:

  • Freeze charges for local services and school meals
  • Pay a real living wage to its lowest paid staff and commissioned services

Commending the budget to full council, Council Leader, Cllr Nick Kemp, said: “This Medium-Term Financial Plan is about the things that matter most to our residents, like good quality education and skills; health and social care; jobs and economic prosperity; housing and transport; reducing poverty and inequality; and a local council that is well run, transparent and accountable to residents.

“It demonstrates how we understand these priorities, but also how we can deliver them safely and sufficiently.

“This is an increasingly difficult and thankless task. The cuts from central government keep coming. This city has had 30% of its funding cut since 2010. We must maintain and improve quality and levels of service, for more and more people with increasingly complex and challenging needs, with less and less money.

“I’m very proud of the way my Cabinet and council officers have risen to this considerable challenge, working together to our three overarching priorities to eradicate poverty in our city, mitigate the impacts on our residents of the cost-of-living crisis, and achieve our net zero ambitions.

“We’ve listened to residents and heard them, and the budget that we now balance is the fairest it can be.

“I’m proud of what we’ve achieved, but I am equally clear that we need a wholly different approach to our funding from central government. It’s simple – long term, fairer funding for councils is the only way to stop our nationwide crisis. There can be no doubt and there are no alternatives; the stability and success of the UK economy is contingent upon the stability and resilience of local authorities.”

There will be a reduction in 54 full-time equivalent posts at the council, of which 40 will be managed through vacant posts. The authority will continue to work closely with trade unions and support employees at risk of redundancy while continuing to avoid compulsory redundancies where possible.

The council recently became an Accredited Real Living Wage Employer paying about 800 of its lowest paid staff an extra £1 an hour which will not only help them in the cost-of-living crisis but also benefit the local economy where the money is usually spent.

The combined rise in Council Tax and Adult Social Care Precept will add 94p a week to a typical Band A property and £1.42 a week to a Band D property.

In the next three years the council needs to save £67.4m – that’s £23.1m in 2023-24; £23.1m in 2024-25 and £21.2m in 2025-26.