11 November 2022| | 2 min read
Council sets out proposals to save more than £23m while protecting frontline services
Like all councils, we face tough decisions in the coming months to balance next year’s budget due to spending cuts imposed by central government, historically high inflation, and recession.
We need to save £23.2m next year, rising to £63.2m over the next three years. This is set against a backdrop of already having saved £347m since 2010.
With inflation at more than 10%, rising energy bills and unprecedented demand for its services, we will save money by proposing to remodel key services to meet these challenges whilst keeping residents safe from harm.
This is set out in Delivering for Our Communities: Our Medium-Term Financial Plan for 2023 to 2024 to 2025 to 2026, which you can find on:
The Cabinet will meet on Monday, November 21, to consider the proposals.
A public consultation will then begin on Tuesday, November 22 and run until January 11, 2023, so residents have seven weeks to say what they think of the proposals.
Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Kemp, said: “The increasing financial pressure on councils everywhere means that inevitably, our budgets cannot stretch as far as we would wish. We have taken every step to mitigate the impact of government cuts on our residents, and we are absolutely focused on supporting people and businesses in Newcastle to get through the cost-of-living crisis.
We have prioritised:
- A freeze on charges for local services and the cost of school meals
- Paying a living wage to our staff and commissioned services
- Increasing support for those on low incomes through our Council Tax reduction Scheme
“These budget proposals must be seen in the context of a decade of austerity, cuts to public service budgets, unfunded cost pressures of over £330 million from the council budget and increasing demand for our services.
“Yet again, central government have failed to provide adequate, long-term funding to enable local authorities to deliver essential services to residents, and this means that we have had to continue to make difficult decisions, but we have made these decisions based on the needs of our residents ensuring that we can continue to deliver the very best services.”
Proposals for 2023-24 include:
- Raising council tax by 1.99%
- Applying 1% increase in the Government’s Adult Social Care Precept
- Taken together these will add £55.19 per year to a Band D property or £36.80p per year to a Band A property
- Reduce spend by £3.24m in Adult Social Care by remodelling care assessments but maintaining adequate support for those who need it
- Reduce spend by £3.3m in Children, Education and Skills by safely reducing demand for services and supporting families to try and stay together
- Review options for changing how we charge for car parking in the city centre to reduce congestion and balance demand including an increase of 20p for both on and off-street parking
- Close the council’s in-house print service and explore procurement options saving £190,000
Next year the council is forecast to spend £250.4m on essential day-to-day services and £131m on capital projects such as roads, houses, schools, and other assets that support the economy and create employment opportunities. Money for capital projects cannot be spent on services.
Cllr Kemp continued: “In delivering our priorities and spending our budget wisely, we propose to invest in the services that keep our residents safe from harm, build their health and wellbeing, and enable them to live happier and more productive lives.
“We want our services to support our residents so that they can thrive and contribute to the success of our city by living their best lives. We want to limit ill health, poverty, poor education, or the many other factors that too often limit people’s potential. Our commitment is more important now, when so many of our residents are facing real hardship and an uncertain future.
“It’s a huge challenge to balance our budget and we know that we don’t have all of the answers yet, which is why we are very keen to hear what residents, partners and businesses think of our proposals. I’m encouraging everyone to take part in our consultation which will run until early new year.”
Once consultation has ended, all comments and views will be presented, along with the council’s response, in a follow up report to Cabinet on February 20, 2023. Cabinet will then be asked to recommend the report to City Council for approval on March 1, 2023.
Have your say
This year the council has various ways people can make their views known on the budget proposals.
From November 22, they can take part in the council’s budget simulator, The People’s Budget, which gives them the chance to set their own spending priorities (available online via the Council’s website).
They can also comment on the proposals on the council’s consultation website, Let’s talk Newcastle Online: https://www.letstalknewcastle.co.uk/
There will be a special section in the residents’ magazine Citylife for comments complete with Freepost address which will begin arriving through doors at the end of this month
In the next three years the council needs to save £63.2m – that’s 2023-4 £23.2m; 2024-25 £20.6m and 2025-26 £19.5m.