Our financial challenges
Newcastle is facing the inevitable outcome of years of unfair and disproportionate Government cuts. In 2010, we received Government support of more than £164 million a year, to go alongside money raised from Council Tax. Between 2010 and 2016, a combination of Government grant cuts and unfunded cost pressures saw a cumulative £221 million cut from our budget.
Over the four-year period 2016-17 to 2019-20, our spending power will fall by 2.3%, compared to the England average of a 1.2% increase. By 2019-20 funding for Newcastle will be less than the average across England, despite the high levels of need in the city.
On top of funding reductions, we also face increasing cost pressures, due to both greater demand for services and new burdens and responsibilities placed on us by Government without corresponding funding.
Government intends to abolish the core grant to councils completely. From 2020 onwards, we will be almost entirely reliant on Council Tax and retained business rates to fund our services.
Our statutory duties
Local authorities are bound by statute and there are many functions that we are legally bound to deliver or commission. Our functions are set out in numerous Acts of Parliament and many of these have associated legal duties which we must continue to deliver despite our financial challenges. We have over 2,000 duties including which cover all of our services. Key legal responsibilities are listed below in terms of people, place and resources (how we structure our services):
- Improving the wellbeing of under 5 year olds, providing integrated early-years service. Assessing the provision of child care and advice and training to providers.
- Safeguarding and protecting of children including promoting welfare, looking after the most vulnerable, fostering and adoption, providing short breaks to assist carers of disabled children
- Ensuing there is sufficient education provision available including that for pupils with special educational needs, admissions, pupil referral units, school meals, school transport for those eligible
- Keeping in touch with care leavers and providing financial assistance and advocacy services
- Making sure that people who live in their area receive services that prevent their care needs from becoming more serious, or delay the impact of their needs, can get the information and advice they need to make good decisions about care and support and have a range of provision of high quality, appropriate services to choose from.
- Responsible for improving the health of their local population and for public health services including most sexual health services and services aimed at reducing drug and alcohol misuse
- Make people aware of their benefit entitlements, facilitate claims and investigate any fraud
- Housing, including periodically reviewing needs and how we manage the Housing Revenue Account
- Establishing a Community Safety Partnership and developing a community safety strategy
- Environmental and regulatory, including trading standards, inspection and enforcement, product safety, environmental protection
- Preservation and access to monuments and listed buildings
- Licensing, including granting permits, maintaining registers, covering thing such as gambling, alcohol, food safety and hackney carriages
- Biodiversity, including protection of wildlife and pest control
- Highways, including the providing and repairing rights of ways, maintaining highways and ensuring works are carried out safety
- Preparing a Local Transport Plan and ensuring road safety, proving traffic management and managing parking
- Collecting and disposing of waste
- Registration of births, deaths and marriages and licensing premises and venues
- Providing a comprehensive and efficient library service
- Finance, accounting and audit, including setting a budget and how we can use our financial resources
- How we recruit and employ our staff
- How we commission and procure supplies and services
- Responding to Freedom of Information request