South Tyneside Council proposes council tax hike in bid to save £7m to balance budget

South Tyneside Council is planning the tax increase alongside a raft of cost-cutting proposals to try and balance its budget. Credit: Google Maps

People on South Tyneside are facing a 4.95% increase in their council tax as part of plans to balance the council's budget.

South Tyneside Council is planning the increase alongside a raft of cost-cutting proposals to try and balance its budget.

The local authority says it needs to save £7m to balance its budget next year, as well as using £8m from its reserves.

Under the proposals, council services would gain around £1.16 per week from a Band A property which the majority of homes on South Tyneside fall into.

The increase would be a combination of the Government’s two per cent adult social care levy, which is ring-fenced for those services, and a 2.95 per cent increase in council tax.

Nearly half of the council’s savings will come from adult social services and commissioning, along with plans to get rid of around 60 vacant council job posts, reducing energy costs for the council, and increasing car parking income.

It is not the first time the council has proposed increases, with funding for local authority's having been cut over the last decade.

Since 2010 South Tyneside Council has already had to save £201 million.

Despite pressures, council leaders are confident they have plans in place to keep key services going, making progress on wider council priorities and protecting vulnerable residents.

Councillor Joanne Bell, the council’s cabinet member for governance, finance and corporate services, said it is increasingly difficult to deliver the level of savings needed.

She said: “Our services protect those in need and deliver essential services such as beach cleansing, street lighting, bin collections, maintaining the roads and cleaning the streets.

“But we also provide support to older people, people with disabilities and looked after children in care.

“The cost of adults and children’s social care accounts for 70 per cent of the council’s discretionary budget so balancing the budget and protecting essential services is harder than ever before."

The council hopes to continue delivering essential services like collecting bins. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The council states it has made big changes to the way it works in recent years and has weighed up pressures like increased demand for services, reduced central government funding, and competing commitments.

Though the budget for 2024/25 will be decided at a meeting next month, there are some medium term plans to help with planning, such as proposals to expand the local provision of children's care homes and reduce costly out-of-borough placements.

It is also hoped lower-income families will be supported through a revamped council tax reduction scheme.

The council says it will continue to support more than 10,000 working-age residents who need help with their council tax bills due to their personal circumstances.

'Parking charges set to rise in South Shields town centre and the seafront'

South Tyneside Council is also looking to make changes to bring it in line with regional neighbours on home-to-school transport and car parking, with council parking charges set to rise in South Shields town centre and the seafront.

School meal prices will also be frozen for a fourth year, with South Tyneside Council noting its record in providing ‘the cheapest provision in the region’.

Despite pressures put on the council's budget it says that it is committed to helping regenerate the area, increasing investment and jobs.

This includes improving council housing, expanding Mortimer Community College, upgrading the council’s vehicle fleet, and continuing to invest in the International Advanced Manufacturing Park.

South Tyneside Council’s cabinet will consider the medium-term financial plan when it next meets on Wednesday 31 January.

Spending plans will then be considered by all elected councillors at the annual budget meeting on Thursday 22 February.

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