Residents in North Tyneside face a council tax hike and a new garden bin collection charge as local authority chiefs grapple with a £19.2m budget gap.
North Tyneside Council has published a raft of measures to deal with a major financial black hole, which it is feared could spiral to £49.9m over the next four years.
The moves will also see the council cease its school meal provision and outsource those services to the private sector, something which left the GMB union up in arms last week.
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The measures presented to Labour cabinet members on Monday night will mean that North Tyneside households will have to pay a fee to have their garden waste bin collected. That £30 charge is due to come into force in March 2025.
Back in 2013, the council U-turned on a previous £20 bin collection fee after an outcry and had to refund almost 20,000 residents who had paid for it.
Other cuts and savings include:
- An assumed council tax rise of 4.99%, including a 2% precept for adult social care;
- A review of the borough's home-to-school transport service for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilties (SEND), which the council says is “not sustainable” currently and operates at a £2.9m shortfall;
- A council house rent increase of 7.7%;
- Ceasing council provision of school meals, which currently costs the council around £3m.
After the £9.7m worth of cuts and savings proposals presented on Monday, plus the proposed council tax rise, there still remains a £3.7m deficit for the 2024/25 financial year that is yet to be covered.
The council's cabinet member for the climate emergency, Coun Sandra Graham, said on Monday night: “We still have great ambitions for our borough and continue to make huge investments. We are also keeping our parks, leisure centres and libraries open.
“We don’t want to stop the provision of school meals but a loss of £3m a year is not a cost we can sustain. We don’t want to charge for brown bins but we will keep this cost to a minimum and I am happy to support these proposals.”
A public consultation on how to cut costs in home-to-school transport is due to launch on December 4 and will run to January 24, 2024.
The authority warned its current service already goes beyond what is legally required and needs to be stripped back.
Coun Anthony McMullen, who is responsible for finance and resources at the council, said: “The mayor and cabinet have clear priorities for the borough, the budget supports these priorities and ensures we deliver our frontline services and invest in all parts of the borough. Despite 13 years of government cuts we are proud to protect our most vulnerable residents, secure millions in external funding, and deliver ambitious regeneration projects.
“However we are in even tougher times with rising inflation, energy costs, and ongoing global challenges”.
Plans to cease council-provided school meals and hand over the service to private companies have already proved controversial. Trade union GMB plans to protest the move in January next year.
North Tyneside Council has also maintained a fund to help the most vulnerable residents who struggle to pay their council tax. Next week the public will be consulted on the whole budget as part of the authority’s “engagement process”.
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