Cuts blamed as council tax rises by 4.9% in South Tyneside

South Tyneside Council is raising council tax by 4.9%.
South Tyneside Council is raising council tax by 4.9%.

Council tax will go up as council chiefs pledge to protect children and vulnerable adults in South Tyneside.

Residents across the borough are set to see a rise of 4.9% in their bill for the forthcoming financial year 2017-2018.

Not all the changes have been popular but it is only by working innovatively that we have managed to safeguard services in for the future.

Coun Ed Malcolm

This is made up of a 1.95% council tax increase and a 3% adult social care levy.

However, Coun Ed Malcolm, lead member for innovation and resources warned monies raised by the levy would go nowhere towards sufficiently covering demand pressures as a result of government grant reductions.

Coun Malcolm said: “There is a real crisis in adult social care nationally. Faced with a growing elderly population which is putting huge strain on services and a complete lack of funding from central government, the social care system is at breaking point. The situation is a direct result of government cuts and we need a national solution.

“We will continue to do our utmost for the people of South Tyneside and believe this budget is the best way forward against the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in.”

South Tyneside Council has delivered £126m of efficiencies over the last seven years. But has been hit with a further financial blow and must find another £19m in 2017/18

New research by the Institute of Fiscal Studies has confirmed that South Tyneside is the third-hardest-hit council in the country. However, in the face of these challenges, the council says it has shown resilience and innovation.

Coun Malcolm added: “The council has had a total overhaul over the last seven years. We have reshaped our services, made efficiencies wherever we can and changed the way we deliver those services. Not all the changes have been popular, but it is only by working innovatively that we have managed to safeguard services in for the future.”

In a budget speech at a meeting of the full council held at Jarrow Town Hall, yesterday, Coun Malcolm announced there would be: No increase in milk and school meals charges; No increase applied to heating charges for housing plus tenants in 2017/18; Protection of the discretionary social fund at its current value of £189,000.00; A new reduced helper/carer fee of £1.60 to be introduced at various leisure centres to encourage users that require assistance to use and enjoy or leisure facilities, and the council has preserved child protection budgets.

Moving forward, the council is continuing to review services to determine the shape and scope of services over the coming years.