Council taxpayers in North East Lincolnshire will pay nearly three percent more under the next year’s proposed budget.
The council says the draft for the 2022/23 financial year is the “most challenging budget of our lifetimes” amid pressures from the Covid pandemic and rising social care costs.
Cabinet will meet next week to discuss an increase of 1.98 percent for council tax, paying for services like bin collections and education, and one per cent for adult social care.
The pandemic has hit the council’s tax base, and there is currently a £700,000 gap between the council’s spending plans for next year and its expected resources.
However, there has been an increase in Type D equivalent properties for the first time in several years which will boost finances.
Councillor Stan Shreeve, the portfolio holder for Finance, Resources and Assets, said that he was confident the council would deliver on its priorities despite the economic climate.
“Given the Covid pandemic, this is certainly the most challenging budget of our lifetimes,” he said.
“Our number one priority is to continue improvements in children’s services. Together with adult social care, where we are seeing increasing demand from an ageing population, this makes up two thirds of all council spending.
“We are a low-tax administration, and ideally we would like to not increase council tax, but that would be asking too much this year. 1.98 per cent is less than rate of inflation, and we believe it will be lower than most other authorities around the Humber.
“I am not unduly worried about the projected gap in the budget. It may close by the time it comes to full council, and if not we can draw on our reserves.
“Because of the economic situation, we have put added scrutiny on all departments. Council leader Jackson and I have conducted detailed reviews with each department to look at better ways of doing things and reducing costs.”
One of the uncertainties facing the council’s finances over the next year is the appointment of a Children’s Commissioner, who will look into services after a report found children in the system were ‘at risk of harm’.
The budget sees investment helping to strengthen North East Lincolnshire’s economy over the next twelve months.
“We have an ambitious capital programme which will see £60million spent across each of the next three years, half of which will come from external grants,” Councillor Shreeve said.
“There will also be future opportunities for funding in the coming year, such as the second round of Levelling Up bids and the Cleethorpes masterplan. The Hemingway DesignAgency will be delivering their vision on this to cabinet next month.”
The council is asking for public feedback on the budget before it is approved before full council in February.
The full proposals are available to view online here.
All feedback is welcomed and can be given at https://www.nelincs.gov.uk/your-council/consultations-and-surveys/have-your-say/ until Thursday, January 27.