South Tyneside households facing 4.95% council tax rise as leaders cite rising 'costs and demand' for services

South Tyneside residents could face a 4.95% rise in council tax under new budget plans being drawn up by town hall bosses.

South Tyneside Council is preparing its latest spending plans for the 2023/24 financial year as part of its medium term financial plan, which includes setting annual council tax levels.

Central Government assumes local authorities across the country will raise bills by just under 5% next year to help fund local services.

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This includes around 3% in core council tax and a proposed adult social care levy of 2%, which secures funding to be ring fenced for social care services.

Stock image of a council tax bill.

At a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Coordinating and Call-in (OSCC) Committee on Wednesday, January 18, council tax proposals were revealed.

This includes an overall proposed increase of 4.95%, with 2% linked to the adult social care levy and 2.95% linked to core council tax.

The proposals were revealed by Labour councillor Joanne Bell, cabinet member for governance, finance and corporate services, in response to a question from Conservative councillor Ian Forster.

Town hall bosses have confirmed the proposed council tax increase, if approved, would equate to around £1.11 per week for Band A households, into which the majority of borough households fall.

In addition, South Tyneside Council is continuing its support for those facing hardship with welfare support and the council tax support scheme, which provides reduced bills for eligible residents.

Cllr Joanne Bell, the cabinet member responsible for the council’s annual budget, stressed the council tax rise is needed to protect frontline services.

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Speaking after the OSCC Committee meeting this week, Cllr Bell said: “This year, the proposed budget includes an increase in council tax of 4.95%.

“2% of this increase relates to the Government’s adult social care levy, which is ringfenced for care services supporting those in our communities who need it most.

“The adult social care levy contributes towards the funding gap within adult social care services.

“Adult and children’s social care continue to be our biggest areas of spend and account for over 70% of our discretionary budget.

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“The council tax increase equates to around £1.11 per week for Band A households, into which the majority of households fall.

“Just like everyone else the council is experiencing increasing costs and demand. The council cannot run a deficit like other organisations.

“If we do not increase the amount of money coming into the council, we would simply have to stop providing services.

“Communities across the borough rely heavily on the services that we provide.”

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Proposals around council tax are subject to approval from South Tyneside Council’s ruling cabinet before being put to a vote of all 54 borough councillors at a meeting in late-February, 2023.

The final council tax bill issued by the council will include separate amounts levied by other bodies towards police and fire and rescue services.

South Tyneside Council collects these ‘precepts’, with levels decided separately by the region’s Police and Crime Panel and Fire Authority.

As the cost of living crisis continues to impact residents, council chiefs in South Tyneside have stressed they will continue to support those in need.

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Cllr Bell added: “We know that the current cost of living crisis is creating intense pressures, and we will continue to support residents wherever we can.

“We have enhanced our welfare support provision and currently support 18,400 households through our council tax support scheme.

“In addition, we have proposed an additional £100 council tax rebate for households on low income.”

According to a finance update to South Tyneside Council’s OSCC Committee this week, the local authority is still facing making £3.5million in revenue savings to balance the books in 2023/24.

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Estimated revenue savings the following years 2024/25 and 2025/26 are expected to reach a combined total of £18million, at a rate of £9million per year.

More details about council tax and the council’s medium term financial plan are expected to be revealed in coming weeks.