The Borough Council is to raise its share of Council Tax bills for only the second time in seven years.
From 1 April, an average Band D property will pay £5 a year more as the authority tries to cope with increasingly difficult financial circumstances.
Despite reluctantly agreeing to the increase, councillors point out that in Newcastle-under-Lyme more than 80 per cent of residents live in properties which are in either Bands A, B or C and that means for them the extra money being asked to fund borough services works out at just six, seven and nine pence a week respectively on bills.
The £5 rise on an average Band D property equates to 2.77 per cent and means the borough’s precept for these properties is £185.45.
Other key points for residents to note for 2017/18 are:-
- Staffordshire County Council’s demands form the major part of all Council Tax bills and a Band D property will pay an extra £53.89 next year bringing the total payable to £1,142.54.
- The Office of Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner is increasing its share of bills on Band D by £3.55 a year to £181.16.
- Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service share of Band D bills goes up £1.23 per year to £71.56.
A table showing the total bills payable for all property bands is below.
When all of the various parts of the Council Tax bill are added together it means an average Band D property in the borough - which does not have a town or parish council - will pay £1,580.71 for the next financial year.
If where you live does have a parish/town council then whatever they require will be added to the amount above.
In the eight years from 2008/09 to 2016/17, budget “gaps” of £19.282m will have been met by the Borough Council from a combination of savings, efficiencies and additional income whilst continuing to deliver high performing, quality services.The funding “gap” for 2017/18 is £2.728m and the Council has plans in place which mean this will be tackled during the coming year through:-
- The £5 household Council Tax increase would bring in £182,000.
- There will be £1.237m from alternative sources of finance and savings – such as the New Homes Bonus; savings from advanced payments of superannuation contributions; additional business rates income etc.
- £667,000 from good housekeeping efficiencies and more efficient use of budgets.
- £624,000 from staffing efficiencies – no redundancies are anticipated from these proposals.
- £184,000 from additional income.
- £16,000 from reduced insurance premium renewals.
Work is already going on to see how the Council can tackle other significant budget shortfalls identified over the coming years which amount to £1.224m (2018/19); £1.353m (2019/20); £384,000 (2020/21) and £274,000 (2021/22).
Cllr. Terry Turner, Cabinet member for IT, Customer and Finance, said: “It is getting more and more difficult to meet the financial challenges which the Council faces each year.
“We are working incredibly hard to continue delivering services that residents need and value but I am not sure how much longer we will be able to continue to provide the 270 or so services we currently deliver for the people of this borough.”
The Borough Council has to make savings of £2.728 in the next financial year.
It will do this in the five areas outlined below.
Procurement - £16,000 - reduced insurance premium renewals.
Additional Income - £184,000 - net savings arising from proposed the newly introduced Recycling and Waste Service.
Staffing Efficiencies - £624,000 - no redundancies are anticipated to arise from these proposals.
Good housekeeping efficiencies, general other savings and changes in base budgets - £667,000 - various savings arising from more efficient use of budgets.
Alternative sources of finance/other savings - £1.237m - additional contribution to the revenue budget from New Homes Bonus funding; end of requirement for minimum revenue provision; reduction in concurrent functions grants to parishes; effect of forecast Council Tax increase.
As well as feeling revenue budget pressures, the Council is also experiencing tough times with regards to capital expenditure.
New schemes to be funded by the Council from capital receipts amount to just £500,000 in the year ahead.
New Schemes funded from external sources, such as Disabled Facilities Grants, will total £1m and schemes brought forward from the original 2016/17 programme amount to £1.547m making a grand total of £3.047m.
A number of current schemes, amounting to around £2.4m in total, have been put on hold owing to the present lack of capital receipts to finance them.
Only schemes in defined priority areas are being carried out in 2016/17 which means that the continuing expenditure amount to be included in the 2017/18 programme is only £1.547m, the majority of which (£1.500m) relates to the Public Sector Hub.
The programme for 2017/18 is severely constrained by the availability of funding.
Because funds in hand are minimal and the current programme of land sales has not resulted so far in any capital receipts arising and will not now do so until at least the final quarter of 2017/18, only a very limited programme of schemes can be supported.
Accordingly, the programme to be funded from Council resources has been limited to £500,000, which is considered to be the most that can be prudently put forward at the present time.
With only a basic programme proposed for the year ahead, this means that expenditure on a number of new schemes, amounting to around £3.4m, will have to be deferred until at least 2018/19.
Commitments for the period 2018/19 up to, and including, 2021/22 amount to £12.9m and includes:-
- Improving housing £2.8m.
- Investing in community facilities £3.8m.
- Community centres £600,000.
- Safeguarding the borough’s heritage £600,000.
- Investing for the future £2.7m.
- Vehicles and plant £2.4m.