Shaping our future together

Newcastle City Council announced today it will have to save £60m to set balanced budgets over the next three years.

It will take to £327m the amount of money the authority will have saved since 2010 due to austerity.

Today the council set out detailed proposals on how it plans to bridge the £20m gap next year and broad proposals for years two and three. It is also keen to find out what the public think of its proposals at: www.newcastle.gov.uk/budget

Alternatively, people can have a go at setting their own budget using the council’s budget simulator at  www.letstalkbudget.org.uk

It is proposing a council tax rise of 2.95 per cent and implementing the Government’s 1 per cent Adult Social Care Precept meaning an extra 3.95 per cent rise in bills for residents. 

About 100 jobs will go over the next three years – about 40 next year - but the council will work closely with the trade unions to try and avoid compulsory redundancies.

In order to reach next year’s savings target, it proposes, among other things:

• Reviewing disabled parking to ensure there is adequate provision and, charging Blue Badge holders for parking in multi-storeys and off-street car parks
• Reducing the Shopmobility service from six days per week to three and ending free parking for scheme members
• Reviewing Sunday and evening parking charges
• Closing the City Library at 5pm three days a week and not opening on Sundays
• Continue to reduce our financial contribution to Tyne and Wear Archive and Museums leading to five Bank Holiday closures for Discovery Museum and Laing Art Gallery
• Charge for replacing general waste and recycling wheelie bins in line with our previous announcement
• We will continue to develop the support for adults with complex needs, including providing new schemes.

To maintain Newcastle as an attractive place for investment and job creation we will continue to innovate in service delivery, provide services with partners, and invest in capital schemes such as housing and roads – money that cannot legally be used for services but creates jobs and attracts private investment.

An extensive consultation has begun and will run until January 6 2019.

Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Forbes, said: “The Prime Minister has announced the end of austerity but there are still big cuts to local government to come. The savings we will have to make over the next three years will bite deeper into the vital services people depend upon.

“Some councils have already gone bust but Newcastle took a long hard look into the future and confronted the painful decisions. This has put us in a sound financial position.

“It has enabled us to carry on caring for the most vulnerable and maintain facilities like leisure centres, swimming pools and parks with our partners. However, we continue to face rising demand with fewer resources particularly in social care. This gets harder and harder and means that an ever-increasing proportion of the council’s budget is spent on supporting vulnerable people. 

“Although the challenges we face are huge, I am confident that if our partners and communities continue to work with us we can overcome them. We have shown time and time again that our city comes together in times of crisis and great stress.

“Despite austerity, Newcastle is one of the fastest growing cities in the UK. More and more people are choosing to live here and with capital investment from the council and our private sector partners, not to mention our ambitious Devolution deal, the city can face the future with confidence.”

Apart from making cuts, the council will also seek new ways of raising income for when Government funding ceases altogether after 2020.

This includes:

• Increasing income from renting out more office space at the Civic Centre
• Increase council tax on empty properties in line with legislation. This will be used to exempt people up to 25 years old who were in council care from paying council tax
• Increase income through selling advertising and sponsorship including bridge banners and large format digital advertising

To take part in the consultation, the public can have a go at setting the council’s budget themselves through its online budget simulator www.letstalkbudget.org.uk or visit www.letstalknewcastle.co.uk to comment on the proposals.

Cabinet will consider the medium-term plan for 2019-20 to 2021-22 on Monday, November 19. 

The public and partners will be able to have their say until January 6 2019. The feedback will be considered, and a new report will go before Cabinet on February 11 reflecting any changes. Cabinet will be asked to recommend the budget to full council on Wednesday, March 6.