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Newcastle upon Tyne Liberal Democrats

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Council Tax Freeze & Council Budget

February 28, 2011 8:00 AM

Council Tax bills in Newcastle for 2011/12 will be kept at 2010/11 levels. This means that the Lib Dems will have kept Council Tax below the rate of inflation for seven years.

During the summer and autumn, the Focus Team surveyed the views of many households across Walkergate and 96% supported the idea of a freeze in Council Tax.

Walkergate councillor Peter Allen said: "With so many household bills rising, keeping Council Tax at last year's level is very welcome to most local people. And it more than maintains our promise, made in 2004, to keep Council Tax below inflation."

Budget Challenge
Council Tax bills will be frozen despite the Council facing a record budget gap of £44.1 million, as a result of cuts in Government grants, increased demand for services and rises in things like fuel prices.

The Council will fill this gap by making £28.3 million of efficiency savings, generating an extra £7.6 million in increased income (including a new NHS/Council grant), raising some charges by £3.4 million and reducing some services by £4.8 million, particularly where direct Government grants have ceased.

Improving Efficiency
By continuing to make things more efficient, the Council will protect frontline services. Most of these savings will come from "back office" activities like administration, central services, better buying and better use of buildings.

The number of posts across the Council will reduce by around 660, though most are likely to come from not filling vacancies and voluntary redundancies.

Fair Charges
Charges for some services will go up to reflect increased costs. They include an extra 20p per hour on city centre car parking and a £2 charge on Sundays - but free parking after 5 p.m. stays as part of the Alive After 5 campaign. A charge of £15 will be made for all bulky item refuse collections. Charges for photocopying in libraries will rise slightly. Some social care charges will also rise but only in line with a resident's ability to pay.

Peter Allen, who leads the Council's budget team, said: "We have sought to protect front line services by becoming as efficient as possible and only raising charges when absolutely vital.

What's not being cut

Despite many press reports from across the country about cuts in services, by focusing on efficiencies

Newcastle's Lib Dem-led Council will continue to: