South Tyneside MP calls on Government to freeze council tax as bills set to rise in borough

A South Tyneside MP has called on the Government to provide funding to freeze council tax bills.

South Tyneside Council is proposing a 3.95% rise in council tax bills for 2021/22 in order to balance the books amid the impacts of the covid pandemic, with the increase expected to be voted through in February.

The Government has allocated funding to local authorities and permitted council tax bills to rise by up to 5%, which includes 3% earmarked for adult social care, to pay for any shortfall.

Jarrow MP Kate Osborne, who was elected to the role in the December 2019 General Election.

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South Tyneside Council is among those who say a tight financial settlement from Government means they will need to raise council tax bills and make savings.

But Jarrow MP Kate Osborne has called on the Government to ensure bills are kept static for families struggling through the pandemic.

“This council tax rise will hit families right at the very time millions are worried about the future of their jobs and how they will get through the next few months,” she said.

“This Government should not be making families pay for their mishandling of the covid crisis and their broken promises to support councils.”

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“The Prime Minister must listen to the will of the House of Commons – live up to his promise and not force councils to raise council tax to protect vital services during this crisis.”

The proposed rise in council tax in South Tyneside would see the majority of households in South Tyneside, which fall into the lowest Band A bracket, with a weekly increase in their council tax bills of 83p and an annual increase of £42.90.

That is before Tyne and Wear Fire and Civil Defence Authority and the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner confirm any changes to their precepts, which would add to bills, in February 2021.

Earlier in January, Labour leader Keir Starmer called on the Government to stop the council tax rise and provide certainty to millions of struggling families who Labour say face additional blows to their household incomes from frozen pay and a cut to Universal Credit.

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The Government responded at the time stating council tax played an important role in helping fund frontline services needed to respond to the pandemic, and that Ministers’ approach struck a balance between allowing local authorities to address service pressures and ensuring local people had a final say on “excessive increases”.

The Government also highlighted its £500million fund to support people struggling with finances which meant councils could "cut bills further for some of the most vulnerable households", with a £7.2billion support package would to help councils meet "the major Covid-19 service pressures in their local area".

The proposed rise in council tax in South Tyneside will sit alongside savings of £8million in 2021/22, with more savings expected in future years, if approved by councillors.

Despite having to save £175million since 2010 due to government grant reductions, council chiefs say they can achieve a balanced budget in 2021/22.

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Planned savings will be delivered through a mix of reduced spending, delivering new models of service and “increasing efficiency.”

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