Despite the Council's financial pressures, due to reduction in Government support, it continues to deliver - providing quality services and improved outcomes for the people of South Tyneside.
The books are balanced to meet budget demands but pressures in adult and children's social care continue to place further strain on the Council's already stretched budget.
Since 2010, local government has been continually required to make significant cuts. Over the past eight years the Council has already delivered £145m of efficiencies with a further £11m to find in 18/19 and more in future years.
Research by the Institute of Fiscal Studies has confirmed that South Tyneside is the third hardest hit council financially in the country for the period 2010 to 2016. It now has 54 per cent less to spend on helping the people of South Tyneside. That is £746 less for each household, a staggering £402 worse off than the national average.
This year's budget will include increased income generation through new and existing services, delivering greater value for money on external contracts, reducing the Council's carbon footprint and working more in partnership with the community and the voluntary sector to deliver services.
Cllr Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "The people of South Tyneside have been really supportive and have already come forward to work with us to protect services like community facilities and branch libraries. Without the support of the public these facilities would have been under threat of closure and now have the opportunity to go from strength to strength.
"It is only by working together in partnership that we are able to reduce the negative impact that these unprecedented government cuts are having on our communities.
"There is no doubt that South Tyneside has been dealt an unfair hand but as a council we continue to do all we can to making a positive difference to people's lives and to ensure that our Borough is a great place to live, invest and bring up families."
The Council is delivering improved outcomes for residents: visitor numbers and business confidence is up, health outcomes are improving and the employment rate has increased 6.5 per cent since 2010, meaning approximately 5,900 more people are in work. Children's services are in the top 25 nationally having been rated as Good and Outstanding by Ofsted. Children's Centres and Early Years services continue to be supported with no closures in South Tyneside. There is improved care and choice for our most vulnerable residents through the integrated Health and Social Care facility at Haven Court.
Residents have access to a range of high quality, affordable housing. South Tyneside Homes properties exceed the Decent Homes standard and sprinklers are being installed in all of our high rise flats. 98 per cent of residents report feeling safe in our neighbourhoods and waste to landfill is now less than 1 per cent.
As with last year, and like many other Councils across the country, South Tyneside Council is asking residents to pay a little more in their council tax in 18/19 to help protect services. The proposed increase is 4.95 per cent which is made up of a 2.95 per cent council tax increase and a 2 per cent adult social care levy - this equates to around 91p per week for Band A households, into which the majority of households fall.
Cllr Malcolm continued: "The crisis in adult social care funding continues as does the need for fairer funding across local government. We are still waiting to hear what the Government plans to do to address these two issues. In the absence of a fair funding solution we are in the unfortunate position of having to raise council tax further to help plug the gap. In areas such as South Tyneside where tax bands tend to be lower than average, this effectively means we are asking more from already economically disadvantaged people to help poorer people."
Across South Tyneside, physical improvements are changing our town centres and neighbourhoods for the better. The Council's investment at Hebburn Central is now attracting private sector investment. The £3m Jarrow Hub transformation will complete this year and The Word, National Centre for the Written Word continues to win national and international accolades.
The council is making every pound count and attracting external funding for major projects. It has invested in roads and footpaths, beaches and the seafront. Phase two of South Shields 365 is underway and the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), for which £42.5m of regional funding has been secured, starts on site this year creating thousands of jobs. Progress is underway in the development of the Holborn riverside site, which will attract further inward investment and create even more jobs for people in South Tyneside.
This year's budget proposals will be put forward to South Tyneside Council's Cabinet on 7 February and ultimately Full Borough Council for consideration on 22 February 2018.