South Tyneside Council has approved a balanced budget.
The budget has been produced under the very testing circumstances that the Council and its communities have faced.
This year the Council needs to find a further £8m on top of the £175m it has already saved since 2010 due to a tight financial settlement as well as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cllr Joanne Bell, Lead Member for Resources and Innovation said: "The challenge of Covid has been layered on top of the already existing financial stress that public services have been under for a decade.
"There is also significant uncertainty in funding going forward due to the pandemic and the absence of multi-year Government spending review. We have focused on delivering services in new and innovative ways so that local people have access to the support they need whilst still supporting investment to help build a better future for our residents.
"We will continue to improve and stay focused on not only delivering for, but also standing up for, the people of South Tyneside as we move into a post covid world."
This year budget proposals include a spending plan of £360 million over the next five years on major infrastructure projects, such as sustainable energy projects and major road improvements. The spend in 2021/22 is set to be £99m, financed by a mixture of external funding, Government grants, borrowing and capital receipts from sales of assets. Harnessing all available external funding supports value for money on every project.
The Council continues to press the case for fair funding from Central Government as well as the increased pressures in adult and children's social care which account for some 67 per cent of the Council's discretionary budget.
The Borough's ageing population is increasing placing huge pressure on services such as adult social care especially as Government funding continues to be reduced. This is coupled with increasing demand on services to protect and support vulnerable children.
Instead of a long-term funding solution or additional grant, the Government has permitted a percentage increase in council tax bills to be ring-fenced to assist in meeting rising adult social care costs.
This year, all public services included in the council tax bill are considering an increase. The council element is an increase of 3.95%. For a Band A property of which the majority of South Tyneside properties fall, this is a combination of a council tax increase of 20p per week and the Government's adult social care levy which is an increase of 63p per week and is ringfenced to deliver those services.
The council is aware that many households are struggling due to the pandemic especially those on the lowest income. Consequently, the budget includes a reduction for 21/22 of up to £150 in the council tax bill for residents of working age households in receipt of council tax support.