TAMESIDE’S council tax rate is set to go up again in a bid to tackle a budget crisis.
People are likely to pay an extra 1.99 per cent for the year 2021/22 as the authority tries to balance the books.
And according to documents, it will run out of cash reserves in as little as two years if costs are not cut and savings are not delivered.
Tameside’s Place and External Relations Scrutiny Panel received the grim news in a presentation which spelled out the facts.
That includes a pay freeze for all staff over the next 12 months before a two per cent raise per year from 2022/23.
And in the list of financial assumptions, it said: “All £9 million of savings proposals are adopted and delivered in 2021/22, increasing to £14 million in 2022/23.”
The effect of not every penny of tax and rate being collected was also spelled out as it added: “Council Tax and Business Rates income reduced = £5.6 million less than originally planned.”
Millions of pounds worth of overspending by departments was detailed and a ‘budget transformation team’ said in a statement: “21/22 is known to be a tipping point beyond which makes it increasingly likely that we will be unable to set a balanced budget unless significant cost savings achieved – yet cost pressures continue to increase.”
However, the issues go beyond the current financial year, with plans for how to balance the books until 2026/27 mapped out.
And between now and February, measures, savings and cuts will be looked at and decided upon as forecasts made for painful reading.
Documents state the ‘savings requirement in 2022/23 is approx £23 million – representing 11 per cent of net budget, 14 per cent of net controllable budget, 23 per cent of net controllable budget excluding children.’
A series of reasons why Tameside is facing such issues included the continued pandemic impact which effects the income/costs and tax base, a more vulnerable population and homelessness.
Also listed were ‘Future Viability of Active Tameside’ and ‘Insufficient growth in tax base, retaining and growing businesses.’
A list of key messages given to the panel further spelled out the problems as they were told: “Our health and growth inequalities are not sufficiently recognised through funding models and our underfunding means we need to be realistic about the level of service cuts required in the future.
“Regardless of the increase in savings proposals put forward, we still have not got enough money to do everything we want to do.
“2021/22 is now a one-off transition year which must be used to get our heads around the difficult decisions that will be required to produce a sustainable budget for 22/23.”
The panel was also told the remainder of this year will be spent on making sure all the savings earmarked are delivered, while at least a further £10 million of cuts from 2022/23 must also be identified.
And they, ‘must develop confident plans for all cross cutting themes in particular those that manage demand, further the integration agenda or bring extra income into the organisation.”