Increase to Gateshead Council Tax 2023/24
If you are on a low income you may be entitled to Council Tax Support. Visit Council Tax support for more information and to apply. If you need help, email email@example.com or phone us on 0191 433 4646.
The Government has announced a programme of additional help for those receiving Council Tax Support. If you are entitled to any additional help towards your Council Tax you will be sent a revised Council Tax bill with an explanatory letter. In the meantime, if you are concerned about making a payment, contact our Council Tax team or call 0191 433 3600.
Why you must pay Council Tax
Council Tax is a tax on domestic property. It is a local tax collected by local authorities and all liable residents have to pay.
Council Tax pays for hundreds of services. Some of these services you see and use every day. Other services support your local community, and you or your family may need them in the future.
Increase to Council Tax in Gateshead
Our 2023/24 budget resulted in a Council Tax increase of 2.99% for Gateshead residents in respect of our expenditure. There was an additional increase of 2% for Gateshead residents in respect of the Government's charge for adult social care expenditure.
This resulted in a combined Council Tax increase of 4.99% for Gateshead residents (excluding precepts from the Police and Crime Commissioner, Fire Authority and Lamesley Parish). This represented a £1.26 a week rise for the majority of Gateshead residents, living in the lowest-value properties (Band A). The rise was £1.89 a week for those in Band D.
Increasing Council Tax is a difficult decision which is never taken lightly. An increase of 4.99% will raise £5.2 million of funding which will help fund essential services. However, this is still nowhere near enough. We have balanced our 2023/24 budget using reserves of £25.8 million along with almost £13.1m budget cuts.
Visit our Budget 2023-24 pages for more detailed information about the budget and the increase to Council Tax.
Cuts to services
Since 2010, the Government has significantly reduced the amount of money it gives to local authorities. We have lost 56% of the budget we have for services over the last 13 years and now have £977 less to spend per resident. In addition to funding cuts, we have more demand for services like adult social care and care for vulnerable children. Costs arising from Government policy changes, like the National Living Wage and welfare reform, also have a big impact on our finances. Like many organisations, we are also seeing cost increases due to inflation and increasing utilities costs.
The reduction in funding from Central Government has meant that we have had to significantly change the services we provide for local people. In some areas services have been reduced and in others we have had to identify alternative ways to ensure services, such as libraries, can still be offered.
Council Tax, although really important, does not cover all the costs of running our services. In fact, it is only about 40% of our income.
The Government intends to make local authorities more self-sufficient by funding all local services through Council Tax and business rates. This method of raising money shifts responsibility onto local tax- and rate-payers.
Council Tax rises and the social care system
The Government has recognised that there is an urgent need to tackle immediate budget pressures in social care. There are now more older people in our population than ever before. Social care helps support vulnerable and older people to live at home independently or in care homes. Although you may not use social care services now, you or someone in your family is likely to need them in the future.
The Government introduced the 2% charge on Council Tax payers to raise much-needed funding. However, social care is in crisis nationally and needs a sustainable funding solution. To help address this issue we are looking at new ways to manage social care services. We are working closely with our partners in health and local communities to ensure people can live in their own homes longer with or without support.
We believe that the national system of funding social care from Council Tax is flawed. This is essentially a national tax applied locally. There is no link between where money is raised and where the need is. Also, the system favours wealthier areas of the country as they are able to raise more money from a higher number of higher band properties. The amount of extra Council Tax income that the 2% social care precept brings us does not come close to meeting the increasing demand for services that care for elderly and vulnerable people.
Funding alternatives to Council Tax
We have already reduced our workforce by around a third, as well as the number of buildings we own. We will continue to look at new ways to work more efficiently. We continue to seek ways to raise new funding by promoting a growing local economy through new businesses and new housing as well as increasing trade and investment income.
Use of Council funding reserves versus increases to Council Tax
Just as you would not want to use personal savings every month to cover a reduction in household income, reserves are a limited option for funding services. Reserves can be used short term in a planned way to lessen the impact of budget cuts and allow time to plan or they can be used to fund activities that lead to more income or savings.
Permanent forms of increased income, such as Council Tax or budget cuts, must be made to find a sustainable solution to the council's finances.
Help with Council Tax
We understand the impact of a Council Tax increase on some of the most vulnerable in society and particularly those on fixed incomes, especially during a cost-of-living crisis. However, a combination of continued cost pressures and significant funding reductions has left us with little choice but to consider an increase to Council Tax to protect the delivery of essential council services to the residents of Gateshead. In November 2022, we agreed to continue to provide the current Local Council Tax Support Scheme, which enables targeted support for those residents likely to be most affected by the increase.
If you are on a low income you may be able to get some help to pay your Council Tax. For example, we have a local Council Tax Support Scheme, which currently helps over 20,000 residents on a low income with a reduction in their Council Tax.
For 2023/24 we have been awarded £525,000 of funding to reduce the liability of Local Council Tax Support claimants (pensioners and working-age claimants) by up to £25.00. The reduction will be allocated at annual billing and throughout the year for any change of circumstances. This will affect around 20,000 households.
Non-payment of Council Tax
Anyone who is liable for Council Tax must pay; it's against the law not to. The Council Tax team can help you if you are finding it hard to pay. Please contact the team as soon as possible to discuss alternative payment options and other ways to help you pay. However, if you are able to pay and choose not to, we will start legal action against you. If you do not pay your Council Tax we may take enforcement action which could result in money being deducted directly from your pay. Or we may use external enforcement agents, which can incur additional costs that will be added to your account.
If you are on a low income you may be able get some help to pay your Council Tax through Council Tax Support. Visit Council Tax support for more information and to apply online. If you need help, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us on 0191 433 4646.
Further information on help with the cost of living is available on the council website.
You can also get in touch with Citizen's Advice Gateshead for help and support.
0191 433 3600
Monday to Thursday 8.45am to 5pm
Friday 8.45am to 4.30pm