More details revealed on planned council tax rise for South Tyneside
More details of a proposed council tax hike in South Tyneside have been revealed after town hall bosses published their latest spending plans.
The medium term financial plan is due to go before the borough’s political leaders next week and sets out priority investments, around £3.7million of cuts and a 4.95% council tax rise for 2023/24.
Proposals to increase council tax include a 2% Government levy to ringfence cash for adult social care services and a 2.95% rise in core council tax.
The final bill issued by South Tyneside Council would also include separate levies linked to the region’s police and fire and rescue services, although decisions around these ‘precepts’ are taken by other statutory bodies.
Council tax levels, based on predicted maximum increases for both precepts, could see a Band A property, into which the majority of households in South Tyneside fall, face an annual bill of £1,393.88.
This would represent a weekly increase of £1.36 for a Band A property and an annual increase of £70.87.
An average Band D property, under the same precept estimates, could face an annual bill of £2,090.81, representing a weekly increase of £2.04 and annual increase of £106.29.
Precept figures are expected to be finalised in coming weeks, which could lead to “minor roundings” to the final amounts appearing on residents’ household council tax bills.
According to council budget documents, council tax is expected to raise more than £72million for South Tyneside Council in 2023/24, equating to just under half of the council’s general fund budget.
However finance chiefs have noted that the council tax rise, while in line with Government limits, is less than half the current rate of inflation.
Councillor Joanne Bell, cabinet member for governance, finance and corporate services, said the local authority had to raise council tax to protect services.
In light of the cost of living crisis, the council chief stressed support would still be available to help eligible residents with council tax bills.
This includes a £100 council tax rebate for households on low income, which is expected to benefit around 12,000 residents, and the council tax reduction scheme, which provides support to more than 18,000 residents.
The local authority is also continuing its support for the borough’s main food banks, recognising them as a “valuable port of call” for vulnerable residents.
Cllr Bell continued: “Obviously from our point of view, council tax is one of the only revenue streams that we get in to actually keep our services running that our residents want, need and deserve.
“The proposed rise is still giving us one of the lowest per head count [rates of council tax] and we’re the fourth lowest out of 12 councils in the North East region.
“All other authorities are looking at the same kind of council tax increase in order to try and come in with a balanced budget.
“We understand all too well the cost of living and the cost of energy but unfortunately to continue providing the services that we do, council tax is something that we really have to look at carefully and look at the limits.”
Cllr Bell added that Central Government sets a percentage limit or “cap” for council tax every year and that councils can be penalised for failing to take advantage of it.
Cllr Bell added: “We have got to be mindful of the fact that, in recent years, if councils haven’t gone to the limit of their council tax, it then limits success in Government funding applications because councils haven’t taken the opportunity to try and bring some revenue in themselves.”
The medium term financial plan, and council tax proposals for 2023/24, will go before South Tyneside Council’s ruling cabinet for decision on Februrary 1, 2023.
If approved, the spending plans will be put to a vote of all 54 South Tyneside councillors at a meeting of borough council on February 23, 2023.