14 February 2020| | 3 min read
Supporting people and the environment
Supporting people and the environment will be the main thrust of budget proposals to be discussed by councillors this month.
Newcastle City Council’s cabinet will consider a range of measures on Monday Feb 24 that will support communities and enhance the environment. It will also increase its capacity to cut carbon by investing in new infrastructure so the city can be carbon neutral by 2030 - 20 years ahead of the Government’s target.
The authority must save £20.3m next year to set a balanced budget. It is also proposing a council tax rise of 1.95% and a 2% rise in the adult social care precept which will add 83p a week to a Band A property.
An additional £10.8m of one-off Government money will be used to continue the support for people and the environment.
To support the environment, the council will:
- Invest £1.1m on a new 25-strong rapid response team to tackle environmental crimes like fly-tipping
- Introduce measures to tackle air pollution
- Plant 1,000 trees and look at the feasibility of community orchards
- Invest £1.2m in upgrading 45 play spaces
- Act upon the recommendations of the Climate Change Committee’s advisory report
- Run a climate change awareness and behaviour change campaign
The council will also:
- Maintain educational bursaries to help children stay in education
- Invest in welfare rights to give people on benefits assistance
- Continue to invest in specialist housing for people with mental and physical disabilities
- Grow fostering services so vulnerable children can grow up in loving homes
- Review complex care and support packages to help people stay independent
- Invest in strengthening the voice and influence of 57,000 children and young people
Council leader, Cllr Nick Forbes, said: “Although the Government talks about the end of austerity we have yet to see sustained evidence of this, so our priority is to continue supporting children and vulnerable people.
“We will use the £10.8m of one-off extra money to also enhance the environment so people can live in clean, green and safe neighbourhoods. That’s why we will invest in a new environmental rapid response team to tackle litter and fly-tipping.
“All the same time we are doing this we will do our best to mitigate the effects of climate change while building our capacity to reduce the city’s carbon emissions. We declared a climate emergency and are now actively working with partners and the public to draw up a plan that roll out a series of carbon reducing measures.”
In the last financial year, the council managed to slash its carbon footprint by 13% with a range of measures. It will continue to switch more council vehicles to electric, roll out an £8m street lighting project which will save up to 70% energy and switch energy supplier to give 100% renewable energy.
It carried out a consultation exercise into its budget proposals and received 150 responses from residents and individuals.
If Cabinet agree the budget proposals, they will go forward to be debated at full council on March 4 when the budget will be set.