Three per cent council tax rise defended

PEOPLE in Tameside will pay about three per cent more in council tax as the authority tries to plug a £3 million budget hole.

And it admits in the long-term its financial gap will grow to more than £28.5 million.

In the short-term, those living in the borough would have pay 2.99 per cent more – equating for a Band A property to an increase of £31.97 per year or 61 pence per week – if budget plans are approved.

That is after finance chiefs told the authority’s executive cabinet current levels will not pay the bills.

A report states: “After taking account of budget pressures, additional income and savings identified for delivery in 2022/23, the total net budget requirement for the council is £208.609 million.

Tameside Council leader, Cllr Brenda Warrington at the meeting of full council

“Before any increase in council tax levels, the resource available in 2022/23 is £205.572 million, leaving a gap of £3.037 million.

“This remaining budget gap of £3.037 million can be closed with a 1.99 per cent general increase and a one per cent adult social care precept.”

Tameside’s financial situation was laid bare as budget plans for this financial year and beyond were discussed.

It also claimed extra money needed to deliver services outstrips the level of funding received from the Government.

Tameside One | Photo by Gary Carter

The report adds: “The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to place significant pressures on budgets, either due to additional costs or reduced levels of income.

“Government has provided another one-year financial settlement for Local Government, including some increases in funding.

“Whilst the additional funding is welcome, growth in cost and demand pressures continues to significantly exceed funding levels.

“As a result, the budget can only be balanced with further savings and the maximum 1.99 per cent increase in council tax plus one per cent adult social precept.

“Significant additional funding was provided in 2020/21 and 2021/22. However no additional funding is available for 2022/23, despite ongoing pressures and income reductions forecast into 2022/23 and beyond.”

Cllr Oliver Ryan

Tameside Council has delivered millions of pounds of what are termed savings – or could be called cuts – to try and balance the books.

Others include trimming £450,000 from its sport and leisure departments and the removal of the staffing budget for the Museum of Manchester Regiment in Ashton will save £20,000.

But an overspend of more than £1.1 million is still forecast and it claimed: “This masks a number of pressures and overspends in some areas, offset by underspends in others.

“Many of the underspends are driven by one-off funding or one-off savings which will not be available in 2022/23.

“Balancing the budget has only been possible through the use of a significant amount of additional one-off funding which is not expected to be available in 2022/23, and as a result the Council still faces a significant budget gap in future years.”

Long-term figures are even more alarming, with a budget gap – according to council figures – of £11.764 million for 2023/24, increasing to £28.633 million by 2026/27.

And the reports said: “The council must ensure a relentless focus on delivery of savings, to have any chance of closing the gap in future years.

“The council has made use of reserves over the last few years, to provide services with the time to improve, but this is not sustainable in the long run.”

Tameside Council’s cabinet member for finance, Cllr Oliver Ryan, said: “Every year we’re having to squeeze and squeeze, and we have done since 2010, to try and make up that amount that government has cut away.

“They give us less and less money and try to pass the blame on to us.

“This is very, very difficult. It’s probably the most difficult budget we’ve had to do. It’s a huge challenge.”

The Access Social Care charity found £26.4 million has been slashed from Tameside’s local authority budget this financial year.

It said: “These large scale budget cuts mean that potentially millions of older and disabled people will go without the care services needed to sustain a basic quality of life.

“This means people will be left without vital services such as help managing nutrition, personal hygiene, assisting with toilet needs and maintaining personal relationships.

“Alongside these drastic cuts, the level of unmet need is also increasing. Demand for social care has risen with an ageing population.”

Chief executive Kari Gerstheimer added: “Every day, millions of people across the country do not get the social care they are legally entitled to.

“The system is also deeply unfair, with poorer areas suffering the deepest cuts to their social care budgets.

“Without additional funding, local authorities will struggle to make ends meet and stark health inequalities will continue to climb.”

One Reply to “Three per cent council tax rise defended”

  1. One great problem is obesity. We are the fattest part of Greater Manchester. We have showed no vision in tacking it. In fact our local politicians very rarely mention it for fear of losing votes. Many public sector workers are obese are overweight. It costs so many preventative illnesses and deaths. It costs a fortune in money. Type two diabetes, certain cancers,heart disease strokes the list is endless. I could help on this and i a will not charge one penny. IT CAN AND MUST CHANGE. EVEN OUR YOUNG PEOPLE ARE YOU OVER WEIGHT. My own slogan for tameside PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE. You must act now Even many deaths in this pandemic were caused by obesity.

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