Borough tax to rise nearly 2% despite calls for freeze

Newcastle residents will see the tax they pay for borough council services rise by 1.99% in April – despite calls for a freeze from some councillors.

The increase means residents of Strip D properties will pay Newcastle Borough Council £210.24 in 2022/23, which is £4.10 more than in 2021/22.

The council tax increase was approved at a full Borough Council meeting as part of the 2022/23 budget proposals.

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Council leader Simon Tagg told members: ‘This is the lowest increase in several years and is part of a prudent budget which reflects the challenges our council and residents face. That’s 7p a week – £3.65 a year for a C-Band property.

“We are now happily emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic and the prying eyes that have so disrupted the health and livelihoods of people in the borough. We now face a new threat through rising inflation and its effects on the cost of living.

“With the measures outlined in this prudent budget – in particular the introduction of the cost of living reserve – we can help mitigate rising inflation and its effect on municipal budgets. This administration is able to commit to future council taxes rising below 2% for the life of the next council. This is thanks to good internal management and also to forward thinking by setting aside reserves for the years to come.

Councilor Simon Tagg

“The upkeep of street scenes and parks is again protected and enhanced with a new focus on neighborhoods and cleanliness, particularly in the city centre. And the council’s recycling system is going from strength to strength, with increased collection rates and more properties, including apartments, now included.

“We have built capacity where we need it, to deliver the government’s one-time investment of £50m coming into the borough through the Future High Streets Fund and two municipal agreements in Newcastle and Kidsgrove.”

Labor leader Mike Stubbs has made calls for a freeze on the borough council tax.

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He said: ‘Workers in Newcastle-under-Lyme are already feeling the pressure due to increased National Insurance, a £20-a-week cut in Universal Credit and rising energy bills . Despite this, the Conservative group of advisers will insist on forcing a council tax hike, which could push many families over the edge.

“Since 2019, councils across the UK have increased the average council tax bill by over £220, an increase of 13% in just three years. Another 9% increase would see the average household shell out an extra £170 a year.

“The people of Newcastle-under-Lyme are fed up with the Conservatives’ tax hikes. First it was National Insurance, then a stealth tax on contractors, and now an average 9% rise in council tax – on top of a 13% rise since the rise to power of Boris Johnson.

Councilor Mike Stubbs
Councilor Mike Stubbs

“Councillor Tagg, you cannot continue to hit the people of Newcastle-under-Lyme with ever-larger tax bills to pay for the waste and mistakes of the UK Government. On behalf of our local residents, I urge you to think again and reverse your planned council tax increases and cuts in local services and end the pressure on families in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Councilor Andrew Fox-Hewitt, who seconded the amendment, said: ‘A 1.9 per cent increase may not seem like a lot to some in this chamber, but when combined with a 2.99 per cent increase from the county council, an increase in police precepts of 4.19%, an increase in national insurance of 1.25% and average energy price increases of 54%, the impact this will have on many people is clear.

‘The number of homeless people in England is set to rise by a third by 2024 as several councils have warned of a ‘tidal wave’ of need caused by benefit freezes, soaring food and energy bills and the end of Covid eviction bans. More than 66,000 more people will be homeless by 2024, with most of the increase among those forced to ‘couch surf’, according to the housing charity Crisis-Crisis’ annual forecast. .

“If this council were faced with a tough choice about cutting services or increasing council tax, I would be tempted to listen carefully to a debate about those choices, but that’s not the case. This budget presented significant sums transferred or allocated to reserves.

“While it is always prudent to save and hold reserves given the financial uncertainty, especially in this post-Brexit economy, I don’t think we can justify the increased financial burdens on our residents. , given the dismal cost of living crisis, just to put the supplement aside.

“It’s about acting compassionately as counsel.”

The amendment failed to gain sufficient support from other council members, with 14 votes in favor and 23 against. It was described as ‘headline-grabbing pamphlet fodder’ by Councilor Tagg, who warned it would lead to council tax increases in the future.

Councilor Mark Holland said it was a ‘last minute calculation, following a fagot paper calculation’.

He added: ‘It’s an election year and here’s a tax giveaway. It’s not something I feel I can support.

“Fag packs these days tend to carry a health warning and I think this amendment should also come with a health warning because it’s not a one off £154,000 they have to find The lifespan of the mid-term financial strategy is five years, so what this amendment actually proposes is a cut of £770,000.

“Labour has given us no information on how they plan to fund this one-time tax giveaway in the coming years. Are they hoarding tax increases for the future? Do they intend to make any cuts in the future?

“This proposal does nothing to support the people in our society who need it most. As a one-time tax freeze, it will benefit wealthy men in big houses proportionally more than those who need it most in our borough.

Councilor Derrick Huckfield said: ‘We’re talking about people living in poverty and going to food banks, but when you think about it, will a few pennies make a difference? I don’t think a few extra pennies they pay in council tax will make a big difference to the standard of living they already have, whether they’re rich or poor.

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