Council tax is set to go up 2.5% in Newcastle.
The measures are outlined in Borough Council spending plans for 2020/21 which reveal Council Tax bills for the majority of residents will rise by 10 pence or less each week.
Properties in tax bands A, B and C – which make up 70 per cent of all households in Newcastle-under-Lyme – will pay an additional eight, nine and 10 pence each week respectively if plans currently under consideration are agreed next month.
A 2.5 per cent rise in the Borough Council’s share of Council Tax bills is below the 2.99 per cent rises implemented over recent years.
Figures released today show the Council faces a “gap” of £1,249,000 in 2020/21 between what it needs to spend and the finance it has available.
A range of measures have been put forward to bridge the gap while at the same time avoiding redundancies, investing in services and keeping any Council Tax rise down to just a few pence a week for most people.
Included in the proposals put forward by Cabinet members is another £250,000 for the Borough’s Growth Fund. This initiative was launched last year when £304,000 was made available to invest in Council Plan priorities – shaped through consultation with residents - including town centres, modernisation of the Council and investment in residential/commercial development. This time the Growth Fund will include a focus on the environment with action planned on tackling climate change issues.
Council Leader Simon Tagg said: “We are continuing with our journey of providing better services for our communities. In the next financial year we will launch our new recycling and waste service to replace the one which residents have consistently said they dislike. We are aiming to transform Newcastle and Kidsgrove town centres through Town Deals. And we are pressing ahead with plans to re-open Kidsgrove sports centre.
“We aim to achieve this and much more despite asking the vast majority of households to pay just a few pence each per week to support these plans.”
Action planned for 2020/21 to tackle the budget gap include £135,000 in extra income; £495,000 from staffing-related measures including a restructure in Revenues and Benefits and Customer Services; £590,000 from a growth in the Business Rates Collection Fund and a growth in Council Tax incomes because more homes have been built.
Councillor. Stephen Sweeney, Cabinet member for finance and efficiency, said: “We have carried out a consultation with the public on our budget proposals and we had an excellent response to that with almost 370 comments.
“This consultation reflects work we have already done on our corporate priorities. The majority of people said town centre regeneration; refuse collection and recycling; parks, playgrounds and open spaces as well as street cleaning were most important to them. We have taken note of that feedback – and the views of other key stakeholders – and this is clearly reflected in the draft budget which has been put forward.”
As well as bridging the financial gap for 2020/21, the Council faces further budgetary pressures in the four years to come with the authority’s Medium Term Financial Strategy pointing to required savings of £1,367,000 in 2021/21, another £1,115,000 the year after, £1,106,000 in 2023/24 and £858,000 in the 12 month period following that.
In addition to its revenue proposals, the Borough Council has also outlined what it intends to spend as part of its Capital Programme.
Between 2020/21 to 2022/23 it is proposing capital investment of £24,587,000 which includes £3,151,000 for the refurbishment of Kidsgrove sports centre; £4.7 million on improving recycling services and almost £1 million on the continued modernisation of the Borough Council.
The draft Budget and Council Tax plans have been referred to the Finance, Assets and Partnerships Scrutiny Committee for comments before final proposals are considered by Cabinet on 4 February and then Full Council on 29 February.