Council tax could rise by 3 per cent

Councillors in Newcastle have approved a draft budget and council tax rise of 3 per cent at a Cabinet meeting today (Mon 19 February 2018).

The £13m of cuts will now be implemented subject to agreement by full council on 7 March 2018.

The cash-strapped authority will also increase the Government’s precept used to pay for adult social care by two per cent, making a total tax rise of just under 5 per cent.

The latest cuts mean the city will have lost £284m by 2020.

Despite the cuts, the council will spend £1m it set aside last year to pay for environmental improvements.

However, it will need to find £2.3m after the Government announced a 2 per cent pay rise for staff and told councils they would have to fund the rise themselves.

The council received 150 responses on its draft budget during a public consultation that ran from November 2017 to 7 January 2018.

About 40 jobs will go – many of them vacancies – although the council has pledged to work closely with the trade unions to try and avoid compulsory redundancies.

Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Forbes, said: “I would like to thank everyone who took part in our budget consultation.

“I can assure the residents of Newcastle that thanks to good financial management, this council is in a much stronger position, because we have looked into the future and had an honest and open conversation with our communities and partners about how we could keep facilities and services going in the face of deep and unfair cuts.

“These challenges will continue as we struggle with public sector pay, welfare reform and the uncertainty of Brexit.

“The future will be tough, but we have a plan to continue to invest in skills, jobs and housing so we can grow our economy.”

To meet its savings of £13.3m the council proposes to, among other things:

  • Cut its contribution to Tyne and Wear Archives & Museums by £150,000

  • Increase garden waste charges from £1 to £2 per collection

  • Reduce its contribution to Newcastle Gateshead Initiative by £40,000

  • Save £2.6m by developing new ways of caring for adults with complex needs

However, it will continue to invest in the city with an ambitious £370m capital investment programme which will see:

  • The construction of 1,000 affordable new homes

  • 150 specialist homes for older people and those with disabilities and complex needs

  • A new centre in West Denton for people with learning disabilities and/or autism to support people currently living outside the city

  • Shared services to deliver savings on electronic transactions

  • Hosting major events such as the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018 which will give a huge economic boost to the economy

The report will be debated at full council on March 7 when a budget is expected to be set for 2018/19.