Newcastle’s Full Council tonight signed-off the 2021-22 budget without amendment including a small rise in Council Tax.
The Council’s share of the annual Council Tax bill equates to less than nine pence a week for the majority of households in the borough and 10 pence for those in Band D.
In unprecedented times, the budget provides a sustainable forward plan for investment in Council services and significant development projects in communities across the borough. It also takes into account the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent financial losses, including those from services that were restricted or closed
The Leader of the Council, Simon Tagg, said: “We understand that these are very difficult times for our residents. That is why we have taken such care to set a budget that can support the ambitious future growth plans, such as the opening of Kidsgrove Sports Centre and rebuilding the council’s reserves over the next few years, without asking our residents to shoulder the burden.
“We are able to prioritise key areas with continued investment in the Borough Growth Fund and also put plans into place that ensure sustainable growth as we emerge from lockdowns and gradually get back to a sense of normality.”
The Borough Growth Fund, originally set-up by the current administration in 2018, will receive another £250,000 boost in this year’s budget to create a total investment pot of £320,000. This will be invested in the priorities local people have said are important to them. In 2021/22 the Borough Growth Fund will provide:
- £100k to support the new Environmental Sustainability Strategy
This is to ensure that the Council plays its part in improving air quality, reducing carbon emissions and delivering its services in an environmental sustainable way.
- £50k to monitor and address unpleasant odours in parts of the borough
Increased concern about Walleys Quarry landfill has been reported to the Council and was also raised by many residents as part of the budget consultation process as a major priority.
- £100k for the “One Council” programme
Work on the ‘One Council’ programme has already begun and will run until the end of the 2022/23 financial year. Outcomes will involve the extensive redesign of the Council’s structure, processes and technology to effectively transform the way services are delivered and sustainable savings that can be reinvested into frontline services.
- £70k Town Centre Recovery
This is to provide ongoing support to local businesses and town centres to get back on track following the Coronavirus pandemic.
The increase in Council Tax in 2021/2022 will raise £187,000 and will form part of a range of measures that will now be put in place to address a £1.275m shortfall.
Cabinet member for finance and efficiency, Stephen Sweeney, said: “This year we have faced immense challenges and have lost income across a wide range of services due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
“During this time we have also secured £1.75m in advanced Town Deal funding to deliver huge projects in Newcastle and Kidsgrove by the end of March. We also received more than £11m from the Future High Streets Fund to support plans for the redevelopment of the Ryecroft area.
“I think we can look ahead to more settled times and with renewed enthusiasm for the exciting developments going on all across the borough and to the huge improvements and opportunities that these plans will bring about for all of our communities.”