129,000 Newcastle borough residents face council tax hike on back of pandemic


Families will see their council tax bills rise again this coming year to help plug a council’s £1.275 million funding gap.

Newcastle Borough Council said the 2.49 per cent increase equates to an additional 10p a week – £5 a year – for a Band D property. Most residents will pay less than nine pence a week extra.

The council tax hike will raise £187,000 and will form part of a package of measures.

Other steps include £599,000 worth of savings from ‘staffing-related efficiencies’, such as teams being restructured and vacant posts being deleted. The council said this is not expected to result in redundancies.

It will also save £195,000 through greater use of digital technology, £40,000 from a restructuring of the recycling and fleet managerial team, and £131,000 from changes the revenues, benefits and customer services.

The budget proposals were approved at a meeting of the full council this week.

A council tax bill

Council leader 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.”

The report drawn up for councillors outlines some of the financial challenges the authority has been facing.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is forecast to lead to £2.82 million in lost income, including for Jubilee 2, car parking charges and other council fees. It has also created additional costs to ensure services are Covid-secure, and more residents have been claiming for support as they struggle to cope with tighter household finances.

Part of this has been offset by £2.281 million worth of emergency funding from central Government. There has also been help to tackle rough sleeping, outbreak control and enforcement, and the reopening of the high street.

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But the report adds: “The Covid-19 pandemic continues to present significant challenges to the council’s financial position.”

The budget also includes a number of areas of investment, with £70,000 for a town centre recovery plan to help local businesses.

There will also be £100,000 to support a new environmental sustainability strategy, which will improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions. And an extra £250,000 is to be put into the borough’s growth fund.

But Labour group leader Mike Stubbs called on the Conservative-led council to rethink its approach.

He said: “This council tax rise will hit families’ right at the very time millions are worried about the future of their jobs and how they will get through the next few months.

“This local authority should not be making families pay for their mishandling of the Covid crisis and their broken promises to support councils.”

Borough residents are already facing a 4.99 per cent increase in Staffordshire County Council’s share of council tax, a 1.99 per cent increase in the fire service precept, and a proposed rise in the policing share of council tax bills.





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