Borough Keeps its Council Tax Demands Low
LESS THAN a fiver is to be added to the vast majority of Council Tax bills for services provided by Newcastle Borough Council in the year ahead.
A 2.55 per cent increase is lower than the rise levied in the current financial year despite plans for efficiency savings, enhancing services, improving town centres and tackling climate change issues.
Just over 80 per cent of all homes in the borough are in tax bands A, B, C and D – and they will only pay an additional six, seven, nine and 10 pence each week respectively (as the table below shows) after precepts were agreed at a meeting of Full Council last night.
|Property Band||Borough Council Tax £ p||Annual increase in Borough
Council’s share of bills
On top of what the Borough Council asks for its services, an average Band D property will also have to pay £1,295.95 to Staffordshire County Council (+3.99 per cent increase); £225.09 to Staffordshire Police (+3.94 per cent) and £77.24 (1.99 per cent) to Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service. In addition, areas covered by a parish/town council will have to pay a precept to them as well.
Council Leader Simon Tagg said: “The Borough Council carried out a consultation with the public on the budget and 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 spending proposals we are putting forward for the year ahead. We have worked hard to keep the additional burden on Council Taxpayers at a low level whilst at the same time investing in improvements, making efficiency savings where we can and ensuring we deliver quality services for the money we collect.”
Full Council heard that 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 that gap while at the same time avoiding redundancies, investing in services and keeping the Council Tax rise low. These include generating £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.
Included in the spending plans for the next financial year is another £250,000 for the Borough’s Growth Fund.
This initiative was launched this financial year with £304,000 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.
The new investment in the Borough Growth Fund will be split between four areas:-
- £100,000 council modernisation – embedding digitalisation across all services; introducing artificial intelligence and robotics; develop staff skills and invest in apprenticeship opportunities.
- £50,000 building financial sustainability - the Council’s recently appointed Executive Director for Commercial Development and Economic Growth will lead on efforts to “embrace commercial working practices to reduce costs and generate income.”
- £50,000 recycling and climate change – as well as rolling out a new recycling service, the Council will also plant more trees as part of a borough-wide Carbon Capture Parks initiative and also makes bids for funding in the next round of the Government’s Urban Tree Challenge and Woodland Carbon Guarantee.
- £50,000 town centres – this will be used to support the Town Deal bids for Newcastle and Kidsgrove as well as the Future High Streets Fund bid for Newcastle town centre. It will also support rejuvenation of Newcastle market and bring empty council properties back into use.
Deputy Leader Stephen Sweeney 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.”
During the 10 years from 2010/11 to 2019/20, budget gaps of £22.104m will have been met via a combination of savings, efficiencies and additional income.
Further challenges lie ahead with the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy pointing out additional savings of just under £4.5 million will have to be made between 2021/22 and 2024/25.
Last updated 20 February 2020
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