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Views sought on initial budget proposals
Residents are being asked for their views on North Tyneside Council’s initial budget proposals amid unrelenting demand for services for the most vulnerable and sustained government funding reductions.
Cabinet last night (Monday 26 November) heard how an estimated £41m has to be saved by 2023. In the last eight years the council has already had to make £120m of savings and faces a funding gap of more than £13m in 2019/20.
The authority will be meeting with residents over the coming weeks to gather views on its proposals to help it balance its books and continue providing excellent services and value for money.
Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn CBE said:
“Many residents have told me they’re worried about their elderly relatives, or they have children with special educational needs, or they’re worried about themselves and they need support, but they don’t know how the council is going to be able to help them.
“This demand, on top of the massive cuts in Government funding, means we have to look at a radical overhaul of our budget and choose between continuing to provide these essential services and asking the public to pay a little bit more to help.
“Unfunded pressures and unfunded new burdens have meant we have been forced to make substantial savings while trying to protect these essential services our residents value and rely on.
“These unrelenting cuts come at a time when demand and costs for some of the most costly services we provide, such as support to vulnerable adults and children’s social care, keep going up.
“We are faced with real uncertainty as we try to plan for the future as much of our funding comes from one-off grants, which makes it harder to plan for the long-term, and austerity is still an issue for local authorities like us, despite what the Government may say.
“There is also a lack of sustainable funding for unfunded social care pressures - despite recent funding announcements from the Government this does not match the true costs.
“The scale of funding cuts means very difficult decisions have already had to be made and unfortunately many more lie ahead if we are able to manage with the resources we have.
“Despite the challenges we face, we have engaged with and listened to our residents and have developed a clear plan for the future - working closely with my Cabinet we have carefully scrutinised the council’s finances.
“These initial budget proposals are aimed at protecting essential services that are important to residents while investing in the future of the borough, growing the local economy, and creating more jobs and opportunities - demonstrating our commitment to being an authority that works better for its residents.
“We are determined to make sure the authority continues to operate as efficiently as possible while providing excellent value for money for local taxpayers.”
Savings proposals for 2019/20 include:
- The council’s children’s services department is rated among the best in the country and has been asked to help improve other local authorities, generating income.
- Continuing promoting the work being done to keep people healthy to help keep demand down.
- Delivering a 10-year plan to increase recycling and minimise the cost of waste.
- Construction, housing repairs and maintenance services will be returned to the direct management of the council from 1 April 2019.
- Protecting and developing the borough’s rich cultural offer, making the most of the authority’s assets and North Tyneside’s heritage.
- Continuing the successful regeneration of the borough over the coming years through The ‘Ambition for North Tyneside’ strategy.
- Ensuring the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities are appropriately funded.
- Continuing to ensure the organisation reflects changes in services and reductions in resources.
The engagement process takes place from 27 November until 6 January and will involve an online survey, consultation with the residents’ panel, which anyone can join, and targeted engagement with businesses and community groups.
All these views will be used to shape the final budget, which will be considered by Full Council in February 2019.
Mayor Redfearn added: “These proposals are very much in their early stages and it is important to stress that nothing has been decided yet. The engagement process will be open and meaningful so I would urge everyone to have their say.”
To find out more about taking part in the engagement process email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (0191) 643 2828.