Sadness, anger and grim acceptance as council tax bills set to rise in South Tyneside

Plans to raise council tax and cut spending in South Tyneside have been met with anger, sadness and grim acceptance.

The covid crisis has seen the local authority both lose income and face extra costs, and senior councillors say a “tight” funding settlement in terms of the cash the council gets from the Government means they have little choice put to put bills up.

The rise is made up of 3% ring-fenced for adult social care and a 1.95% increase in core council tax. A final vote on the budget is due later in February 2021.

South Shields Town Hall.

Gazette readers have had a mixed reaction to the plan on our Facebook page, with some angry, some suggesting alternatives, and others simply grimly resigned to the need for increases.

Michael Bloomfield said: “Great time to put it up...when there's a pandemic still going on, people still on furlough, people not working due to losing jobs due to said pandemic.”

Colin Lee said: “[In a] couple years time your council tax will be more than your mortgage. Go back to rates system, where the grants the Government give local councils.”

Andrew Morris said: “I could say the pandemic has forced the council hand in this, but it’s just an excuse. This council tax rise would have happened regardless, it’s now a yearly given and is getting out of hand.

"Mine is now a £500 increase in five years, which is ridiculous. The breaking point of society is coming, it’s not sustainable.”

Chris Addison added: “Cut councillors’ expenses instead of hitting the public every-time.”

Michael Simpson wasn’t happy either, but pointed out the actions of the public could make a difference to budgets.

"Never expected anything different. I'm sure if there was an independent examination of the use of resources they could find ways to save a few bob. Also the public could do their bit too, why on earth should the council tax go towards picking up people's litter.”

Michael McCulla was among those resigned to the rise.

He said: “Probably not a popular opinion, but in fairness the council have been greatly impacted by Covid 19 and ultimately have to be able to fund the services they provide.

"The additional costs involved in helping families with school meal vouchers, trying to support struggling businesses and to fund an increase in demand from an already overstretched adult and children's services can't be expected to have no bearing on the typical spending budget.

He added: “The Government doesn't have the best track record for the funding they provide to the North East as a region. They just send us the peanuts and let the local councils take the blame when everyone loses weight.”

Brian Goodman presented a gloomy view of the future.

He said: “Yet AGAIN tax goes up & services go down. Wait till the bill for the covid comes in, it will make austerity look like nothing.”

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