Council Tax remains low as part of a balanced growth budget

Published: 11 January 2022

Pic Simon Tagg at Castle House
Simon Tagg outside Castle House

Cabinet puts forward budget proposals

At their meeting tomorrow Newcastle's Cabinet will approve an increase in Council Tax of just 1.99 per cent, less than in previous years, as part of the Council’s budget for the next financial year.

This would mean an increase of £4.10 a year, or 8p a week, for the majority of families in the borough - those in Band D properties.

Properties in tax bands A, B and C – which make up 70 per cent of all households in Newcastle-under-Lyme – will pay an average of just three pence per week extra.

The budget also hits the mark with continuing investment of £250,000 from the Borough Growth Fund.

In 2022/23 this will invest £100,000 in the One Council programme and a further £100,000 will be invested in sustainable environmental projects such carbon reduction schemes and the tree-planting strategy being carried out across the borough in the next few years. The remaining £50,000 will support initiatives for boosting footfall in the town centre.   

The Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy shows that the Council faces a “gap” in the budget, the difference between what it needs to spend and the finance it has available, of £1.3m in the next financial year and £4.2m over the five year period of the Medium Term Financial Strategy.

Savings of £1,182m will be required in 2023/24, another £926k in the year after, £457k in 2025/26 and £387k in 2026/27.

Cabinet member for finance, town centres and growth, Stephen Sweeney, said: “This is a hard-working budget, balanced in extremely difficult circumstances.

“A range of measures have been put forward to bridge the funding gap, while at the same time avoiding redundancies and investing in essential services and regeneration projects in Newcastle and Kidsgrove. It is a sound budget and I am proud to put it forward.”

The Leader of the Council, Simon Tagg, added: “This is the fourth year of our administration and the last two have been the toughest.

“We have been dealing with unprecedented conditions during the pandemic but we have managed to maintain essential public services throughout that time and we continue to do so as we move forward into the New Year.

“These are also very difficult times for our residents and we empathise with that. What we have always tried to do is balance the need for the Council to be on a sound financial footing with supporting our residents and businesses and, importantly, continuing to invest in our communities.

“As well as balancing this year’s budget, in the next financial year we will see the continuation of huge regeneration projects in Newcastle and Kidsgrove as part of the Town Deal and Future High Street projects and we will continue to modernise the Council and the way it works to make services more efficient and accessible for everyone.”

The Council’s revenue budget relies on fees and charges across a wide range of services, mainly Jubilee2 and charges for car parking. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions losses for this financial year will amount to £1.140m. As such losses have been as a direct result of the pandemic, financial support has been made available from Government – in this case it will amount to £0.360m.

Unringfenced Government funding of £915k has been secured (including £240k of new burdens funding to offset the costs of administering Coronavirus business support grants and test and trace payments). Further specific Government funding has also been received to assist with the Council’s response to the Coronavirus during 2021/22, this includes £35k for elections, £174k for outbreak control and £115k was secured from the Welcome Back fund.

As well as external funding the Council will expect to see an increase in income in 2022/23. This includes £154k from Council Tax and £158k from fees and charges for Council services.

A further £148k will come from an increase in the Council Tax and Business Rate base as a result of an increase in the number of residential properties and businesses in the borough.

It is also expected the One Council plan will bring about £600k worth of savings in the next financial year. ‘One Council’ brings together a range of services in a more effective working model and uses improved online accessibility to provide customer services more efficiently.

And, among other changes made possible by new technologies a life-saving detection system will be installed at Jubilee 2, meaning that fewer lifeguards are needed pool-side, alongside automated kiosks, digital booking facilities and virtual fitness classes.

The revised capital programme includes huge regeneration projects, for which external Government funding has been secured through the Town Deals Fund (£3.246m) and the Future High Streets Fund (£5.341m).

Investment in the capital programme for 2022/23 to 2024/25 - totalling £66.652m - will be funded by:

  • £41.080m – from external funding sources
  • £11.628m – from capital receipts and
  • £13.944m – from prudential borrowing.

As part of the Council’s balances and reserves £840k will be transferred to the Walleys Quarry reserve to support the Council’s court action in the appeal from Walleys Quarry Ltd., against the Statutory Nuisance Abatement Notice. This, along with £160k from the Lower Tier Services Grant means a £1m budget allocation in this reserve.

All of the proposals set out in the report will be discussed by Cabinet at this week’s meeting and will inform the Revenue and Capital Budgets and Council Tax 2022/23 report to Cabinet (2 February) and subsequently taken to Full Council on 23 February for final approval.

A table showing how the Borough Council’s spending proposals would impact on households.






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