North East Connected

Cabinet agrees budget plan and council tax

A BALANCED budget for the next financial year has been proposed by Cabinet.

The council is continuing to deal with long-term, large-scale Government cuts as well as big increases in demand for its services, especially for vulnerable children and adults.

Despite the Government this year announcing even deeper than expected reductions to its grants to the council, the authority’s proposed Council Tax rise for 2018/19 will remain at 1.99%  and not the maximum 2.99% allowed.

The Cabinet has also recommended an increase in the Adult Social Care Precept by 2%, which is earmarked for social care, rather than a permitted 3%.

The authority has a three-year plan to deliver what is now in excess of £25.6 million of budget cuts by 2020 after previously making £75.6 million of reductions from 2010 to 2017. Despite these cuts, which have bitten deeply into services for the borough’s residents, the council will continue its £8 million Growth Strategy to boost the economy. The authority is also facing an increase of £3 million service pressures since it set its budget in February 2017 to protect vulnerable children.

If approved, Band A category council tax payers will pay a little over £19 extra a year or 37 pence per week, prior to any eligible discounts and exemptions being applied.

Now the proposed budget will be put before all councillors at the full Borough Council on Thursday 1 March.

Councillor Sue Jeffrey, Leader of the Council, stressed that the authority will protect frontline services and continue to support the most vulnerable people in the community.

She said: “Our priorities remain the same: providing first-rate services, economic growth, and protecting the vulnerable, particularly our children and the frail and elderly.

“That becomes harder when you realise that the council has lost 1,100 staff since 2010. These were not  all ‘pen pushers’ as some people make out, many of them were men and women who worked directly for local residents at a community level.

“Of course we don’t want to increase Council Tax but we have to deal with the reality of continuing cuts to our budget from central Government. At the same time, we know that many families – especially after job losses at SSI and the Boulby Potash mine – are facing hard times, so we went for a lower level of Council Tax increase than has been allowed by this Government.

“Despite Redcar & Cleveland Council agreeing a three-year guaranteed settlement with the Government last year which, in good faith, we thought was a cast iron guarantee, it was a major blow when the Government announced further cuts to funding this year. At the same time there has been an increase in demand for our services, especially for looked after children and vulnerable adults needing social care.

“This will be the second year of our three year plan to make in excess of £25.6 million of cuts and, as a responsible council, we will deliver a balanced budget. We will always focus on future prosperity and have a growth strategy that will lead to major investment in all our communities.”

The detailed budget proposal for the 2018/19 financial year can be found on the council’s website.

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