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Budget cuts necessary but focus remains on supporting the vulnerable

Budget image 2021

Despite ongoing financial pressures of austerity and the Covid-19 pandemic, Gateshead Council intends to set a budget that prioritises the most vulnerable in its communities.

Full Council have agreed an extensive list of savings proposals to help close an estimated funding gap of £18.6million for the next financial year. These savings come on top £170million of cuts already made by the local authority over the last decade.

Following public consultation, in this year's budget, Council Tax will rise by 1.99% as well as the Council proposing to approve the Government's 3% precept for adult social care. The increase of 4.99% will put an extra £1.17 a week rise for council tax payers in the lowest band A properties which make up 60% of properties in Gateshead.

Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council said: "The impact of Covid-19 on the Council's finances has been absolutely devastating.  We were already in a very difficult position following a decade of disproportionate funding cuts, coupled with increasing demand, which required the Council to make £170m of savings.

"We estimate that the pandemic has had a £28m impact on our revenue budget alone this year and the Government haven't given us much of a commitment within our financial settlement to meet the continued costs for next year. We're also likely to face additional challenges going forward once we know the longer-term impact on our economy after the government's support to businesses and those on furlough is over."

We have already set out a strategic approach to help reduce inequalities in Gateshead. The approach 'Making Gateshead a Place Where Everyone Thrives has underpinned many of the budget decisions and aims to support the most vulnerable in Gateshead.

"The impact of covid has exacerbated the inequalities that we are experiencing across the borough. We now see more people than ever really struggling to make ends meet.  In our budget we will continue to focus the limited resources we do have to support the most vulnerable in our communities and to help them thrive, it's the decent and it's the right thing to do." 

"It's never an easy decision to increase council tax but this year the government gave us little choice.  When they gave us our settlement it was with the assumption that we would increase council tax by up to 5%, passing the burden on to local people and on to those who are already stretched. It's not something we want to do, but we're being squeezed more than ever before. We've experienced a decade of austerity alongside spiralling costs of social care for older people and children.  And this is without factoring in the massive impact the pandemic has had on our finances.

"We know that many families are struggling right now, and we recognise the impact that this increase will have on our residents and we'll make sure that those who need it will get extra help. Our council tax support scheme is there to help those most likely affected by the increase."

Our current local Council Tax Support Scheme helps over 12,300 residents on a low income with a reduction in their Council Tax. It is anticipated that these numbers will significantly increase as the longer-term impacts of covid become clearer over the coming months. This year more residents will also see their Council Tax reduced even further with help from the Council Tax Support Hardship Fund.

Councillor Martin Gannon said: "We can't just keep cutting services to balance our budget. It's essential we continue to invest in the future of Gateshead and to invest in schemes which will help local people to thrive.  As a council we need to work differently so we can generate our own income. This can then be reinvested to help pay for the essential services needed by the most vulnerable in our communities."

Planned investment within the capital spending plans for the next five years include: 

  • £49.7m to support housing within the borough, delivering sustainable homes and creating nearly 600 new jobs
  • £100.3m to encourage economic recovery and growth including investment in infrastructure to support the Gateshead Quays development
  • £42.1m to address poverty and inequality including £7.6m to purchase a new intermediate care facility
  • £66.0m to improve transport which will help facilitate sustainable transport and improve air quality
  • £15.8m to address climate change including development of a mine water energy centre

Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council spoke at the annual council meeting today. In his speech he highlighted where the council would be spending its budget next year focusing on key priorities and recommended that the budget was approved by full council.

 

Budget image 2021
25 February 2021

Despite ongoing financial pressures of austerity and the Covid-19 pandemic, Gateshead Council intends to set a budget that prioritises the most vulnerable in its communities.

Full Council have agreed an extensive list of savings proposals to help close an estimated funding gap of £18.6million for the next financial year. These savings come on top £170million of cuts already made by the local authority over the last decade.

Following public consultation, in this year's budget, Council Tax will rise by 1.99% as well as the Council proposing to approve the Government's 3% precept for adult social care. The increase of 4.99% will put an extra £1.17 a week rise for council tax payers in the lowest band A properties which make up 60% of properties in Gateshead.

Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council said: "The impact of Covid-19 on the Council's finances has been absolutely devastating.  We were already in a very difficult position following a decade of disproportionate funding cuts, coupled with increasing demand, which required the Council to make £170m of savings.

"We estimate that the pandemic has had a £28m impact on our revenue budget alone this year and the Government haven't given us much of a commitment within our financial settlement to meet the continued costs for next year. We're also likely to face additional challenges going forward once we know the longer-term impact on our economy after the government's support to businesses and those on furlough is over."

We have already set out a strategic approach to help reduce inequalities in Gateshead. The approach 'Making Gateshead a Place Where Everyone Thrives has underpinned many of the budget decisions and aims to support the most vulnerable in Gateshead.

"The impact of covid has exacerbated the inequalities that we are experiencing across the borough. We now see more people than ever really struggling to make ends meet.  In our budget we will continue to focus the limited resources we do have to support the most vulnerable in our communities and to help them thrive, it's the decent and it's the right thing to do." 

"It's never an easy decision to increase council tax but this year the government gave us little choice.  When they gave us our settlement it was with the assumption that we would increase council tax by up to 5%, passing the burden on to local people and on to those who are already stretched. It's not something we want to do, but we're being squeezed more than ever before. We've experienced a decade of austerity alongside spiralling costs of social care for older people and children.  And this is without factoring in the massive impact the pandemic has had on our finances.

"We know that many families are struggling right now, and we recognise the impact that this increase will have on our residents and we'll make sure that those who need it will get extra help. Our council tax support scheme is there to help those most likely affected by the increase."

Our current local Council Tax Support Scheme helps over 12,300 residents on a low income with a reduction in their Council Tax. It is anticipated that these numbers will significantly increase as the longer-term impacts of covid become clearer over the coming months. This year more residents will also see their Council Tax reduced even further with help from the Council Tax Support Hardship Fund.

Councillor Martin Gannon said: "We can't just keep cutting services to balance our budget. It's essential we continue to invest in the future of Gateshead and to invest in schemes which will help local people to thrive.  As a council we need to work differently so we can generate our own income. This can then be reinvested to help pay for the essential services needed by the most vulnerable in our communities."

Planned investment within the capital spending plans for the next five years include: 

  • £49.7m to support housing within the borough, delivering sustainable homes and creating nearly 600 new jobs
  • £100.3m to encourage economic recovery and growth including investment in infrastructure to support the Gateshead Quays development
  • £42.1m to address poverty and inequality including £7.6m to purchase a new intermediate care facility
  • £66.0m to improve transport which will help facilitate sustainable transport and improve air quality
  • £15.8m to address climate change including development of a mine water energy centre

Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council spoke at the annual council meeting today. In his speech he highlighted where the council would be spending its budget next year focusing on key priorities and recommended that the budget was approved by full council.

 

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