Balanced Budget Approved

Posted by: caroline smith on 26 February 2024 14:32


South Tyneside Council has agreed a balanced budget for 2024 / 25 despite ongoing increasing cost pressures and savings targets.

The council weighed up pressures like increased demand for services, reduced central government funding, and competing commitments, priorities, and ambitions in bringing forward its Medium-Term Financial Plan.

The agreed budget is aligned to the borough's 20-year vision, which was directly influenced by people across South Tyneside, with savings and spending linked to prevention, income generation and ensuring that the council is modern and effective.

In social care, investment in adult social care accommodation and better use of assisted technologies will help support people to live independently at home.

Investment in children's care homes will help expand local provision and reduce very costly out of borough placements.

Lower income families will be supported through a significantly revamped council tax reduction scheme.

Elsewhere, school meal prices will be frozen for a fourth year. South Tyneside Council heavily subsidises school meals and provides the cheapest provision in the region.

The council is also looking to make some changes that bring it in line with regional counterparts on areas like home to school transport and car parking.

The council is still ambitious and is committed to sustaining its current capital programme including town centre masterplans, district energy schemes, the relocation of South Tyneside College and development of Holborn riverside. The majority of capital projects have external funding secured to support them like the £20m Levelling Up funding for South Shields Riverside, £20m for Jarrow as part of the Towns Fund and £20m awarded to South Tyneside as a Levelling Up partnership area. Tactical investment will be used to leverage other external funding streams.

Savings of £7m were agreed for 2024 / 25 and it was noted that further would be required in future years despite the council having already saved £201m already since 2010 against a backdrop of significant reductions in government funding. Over half of the Council's government funding has been slashed since 2010.

Cllr Joanne Bell, Lead member for Governance, Finance and Corporate Services at South Tyneside Council said: "Bringing forward a balanced budget is one of the most important things we must do as a council.

"Our services protect those in need and deliver essential services such as beach cleansing, street lighting, bin collections, maintaining the roads and cleaning the streets. But we also provide support to older people, people with disabilities and looked after children in care. The cost of adults and children's social care accounts for 70% of the council's discretionary budget so balancing the budget and protecting essential services is harder than ever before.

"We have been prudent and careful with our financial management over the years. We are an asset rich council, investing in the borough's capital programme including roads, footpaths, accessible equipment, housing stock and renewable energy schemes because we know these things matter to residents. Our street cleansing and road maintenance budgets have not been reduced despite pressures and we've invested in our CCTV operations room to support tackling Anti-Social Behaviour in partnership with the police.

"We continue to press the case for fair funding from Central Government especially to meet the increased pressures in adult and children's social care."

This year the council is proposing a council tax increase of 4.95 per cent which is a combination of the Government's adult social care levy which is ringfenced for those services and an increase in council tax. This means an increase of £1.16 per week for an average Band A household of which the majority of homes in South Tyneside fall.

The council will still help over 10,000 working age people in South Tyneside who need help with their council tax bills due to their personal circumstances. The updated council tax reduction scheme is now fairer and more transparent making it easier to both understand and administer.

Last modified: 09 April 2024 14:45