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Budget agreed but enormous challenges lay ahead

Budget scales

The Leader of Gateshead Council today warned that the difficult choices being made in the face of 'massive and rapid reductions in government funding' is having a real impact on people in the borough.

Cabinet members at Gateshead Council today (February 19) agreed to an extensive list of savings because of reductions in government funding and rising demand for services. Savings to meet a £29 million funding gap next year, comes on top of £157million of cuts already made by Gateshead Council since 2010. 

Leader of Gateshead Council, Martin Gannon, said: "What we're facing is an enormous challenge; further and deeper cuts from central government are continuing to impact on the everyday lives of local people. It's a desperate situation moving forward. We've already had to reduce budgets by over £150 million and we've a gap in our budget next year of another £29million. This can only mean even further cuts, even more council tax rises, making it even harder to provide essential social care services to our elderly and young people. 

"We now have at least £900 less to spend on each Gateshead household than we did in 2010. We've been hit harder than almost any other council in the country by the years of austerity.  It's just not right and it makes me angry that the people of Gateshead are not being given a fair chance by this Government.

"We're working with other councils to fight for a fair and adequate approach to local government funding but despite our strong arguments, the Government just isn't listening. It's impossible to plan for the future as after next year we don't know how local government will be financed."

The council carried out a wide-ranging consultation on the proposals with over 1,000 people, businesses and local organisations taking the opportunity to give their views on the budget since proposals were unveiled last November.

Councillor Gannon said: "We've listened to our residents and have changed some of our initial proposals using reserves to help give us the time to change the way we deliver some services; we're also looking at ways the community can help support those services that are important to them. We don't take the decision to use reserves lightly, we know this only buys us a little more time, and once they're gone, they're gone."

In this year's budget, Council Tax will rise by 2.99% as well as the council proposing to approve the Government's 1% precept for adult social care. The increase of 3.99% will put an extra 86p a week rise for Council Tax payers in the lowest band A properties. The Council will continue to support those on a low income who need extra help through their council tax support scheme which helps over 12,000 residents on a low income with a reduction in their council tax.

This year's budget also sees an emphasis placed on generating wealth and investment throughout the borough to secure a stable long-term future. £119million will be committed to encourage economic and housing growth which will bring about new jobs, new homes and increase the skills of local people. Despite the current pressure on resources this represents a significant level of strategic investment.

Next year, the council expects to lose 104 FTE posts and has worked closely with trade unions to keep the number of compulsory redundancies as low as possible. Since 2010 the council has reduced its workforce by more than 2,400 posts.

Councillor Gannon said: "Despite the huge financial challenge, the Council continues to focus on fighting for a better future for Gateshead and make sure the people who need our help the most get it. Huge government cuts mean we can't do what we once did, but we're committed to reinvigorating our local economy, helping boost opportunities for new jobs and better skills, developing good quality housing and encouraging and supporting new businesses whilst growing the council's income to help provide the services local people need."

A full Council meeting on February 21 will discuss the Budget recommended by Cabinet.

 

 

Budget scales
18 February 2019

The Leader of Gateshead Council today warned that the difficult choices being made in the face of 'massive and rapid reductions in government funding' is having a real impact on people in the borough.

Cabinet members at Gateshead Council today (February 19) agreed to an extensive list of savings because of reductions in government funding and rising demand for services. Savings to meet a £29 million funding gap next year, comes on top of £157million of cuts already made by Gateshead Council since 2010. 

Leader of Gateshead Council, Martin Gannon, said: "What we're facing is an enormous challenge; further and deeper cuts from central government are continuing to impact on the everyday lives of local people. It's a desperate situation moving forward. We've already had to reduce budgets by over £150 million and we've a gap in our budget next year of another £29million. This can only mean even further cuts, even more council tax rises, making it even harder to provide essential social care services to our elderly and young people. 

"We now have at least £900 less to spend on each Gateshead household than we did in 2010. We've been hit harder than almost any other council in the country by the years of austerity.  It's just not right and it makes me angry that the people of Gateshead are not being given a fair chance by this Government.

"We're working with other councils to fight for a fair and adequate approach to local government funding but despite our strong arguments, the Government just isn't listening. It's impossible to plan for the future as after next year we don't know how local government will be financed."

The council carried out a wide-ranging consultation on the proposals with over 1,000 people, businesses and local organisations taking the opportunity to give their views on the budget since proposals were unveiled last November.

Councillor Gannon said: "We've listened to our residents and have changed some of our initial proposals using reserves to help give us the time to change the way we deliver some services; we're also looking at ways the community can help support those services that are important to them. We don't take the decision to use reserves lightly, we know this only buys us a little more time, and once they're gone, they're gone."

In this year's budget, Council Tax will rise by 2.99% as well as the council proposing to approve the Government's 1% precept for adult social care. The increase of 3.99% will put an extra 86p a week rise for Council Tax payers in the lowest band A properties. The Council will continue to support those on a low income who need extra help through their council tax support scheme which helps over 12,000 residents on a low income with a reduction in their council tax.

This year's budget also sees an emphasis placed on generating wealth and investment throughout the borough to secure a stable long-term future. £119million will be committed to encourage economic and housing growth which will bring about new jobs, new homes and increase the skills of local people. Despite the current pressure on resources this represents a significant level of strategic investment.

Next year, the council expects to lose 104 FTE posts and has worked closely with trade unions to keep the number of compulsory redundancies as low as possible. Since 2010 the council has reduced its workforce by more than 2,400 posts.

Councillor Gannon said: "Despite the huge financial challenge, the Council continues to focus on fighting for a better future for Gateshead and make sure the people who need our help the most get it. Huge government cuts mean we can't do what we once did, but we're committed to reinvigorating our local economy, helping boost opportunities for new jobs and better skills, developing good quality housing and encouraging and supporting new businesses whilst growing the council's income to help provide the services local people need."

A full Council meeting on February 21 will discuss the Budget recommended by Cabinet.

 

 

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