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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

A Budget That Delivers for Tameside

Friday, 28 February 2020


The familiar surroundings of Guardsman Tony Downes House in Droylsden were the setting for the unveiling of the council’s Budget for 2020-21 on Tuesday night, my third as Executive Leader of the Council and the first since the General Election back in December.

There is no doubt in my mind that 2019 will be looked back upon as a year where many of the seeds of investment and development we’ve planted began to bear fruit. This year, with help from our new Budget, we will build on those strong foundations to usher in a year of delivering a transformation of Tameside as we know it.

However, we know that we can only do that from the solid footing of sustainable finances. Money from council tax makes up just 18% of our spending, with the majority of the rest coming directly from the government. Since 2010, this government funding has been slashed in a blatant passing of the buck for responsibility for some of our most vital services. A decade of this austerity is not something that goes away overnight. Over the past six years we have had to save £160 million to set legally-required balanced budgets, and we expect that further savings will need to be found to allow us to continue setting a legal Budget in future years.

In order to protect our finances and make good on our promises to invest in services and infrastructure, the Budget calls for an increase in council tax of 3.99%, which includes a 2% increase in the precept for adult social care. For a Band A property, which comprises the majority of our housing stock, this translates into an increase of £39.09 per year or 75p per week. This will provide an extra £3.7 million to turbo-charge our plans for Tameside’s future. Increases in Greater Manchester levies, which we collect but have no control over, will also add 43p a week to a Band A council tax bill.

This is not a decision that we have taken lightly. In the months leading up to the release of the Budget we launched our second joint Budget Conversation, giving members of the public the chance to give us their views on how they would like us to spend and save money. One of the results of this Conversation is that we have also made the decision that our residents should not be expected to shoulder the financial burden we face alone. After close scrutiny to ensure that it does not negatively affect our financial stability going forward, this Budget authorises the release of £12.4 million from our reserves. Since we cannot, and will not, use reserves to support day-to-day spending, this money will be used on a number of “invest to save” and “invest to grow” projects in vital services; including Children’s Services, Adult Social Care, Economic Development, and Operations and Neighbourhoods.

 

The meeting of Full Council also heard motions highlighting our commitment to protecting the environment, including the declaration of a climate emergency. From the fires blazing in Australia to the floodwaters right here in Britain, it is clear that we are entering uncharted territory in terms of extreme weather. There is already a lot of essential work taking place in Tameside to ensure that we play a vital role in reducing our carbon footprint. To name just a few; the Council has planted a large number of trees, introduced the use of compostable bags in the Market Hall, rolled out the Refill Scheme to reduce plastic waste, and increased the energy efficiency of our buildings and vehicles. The Greater Manchester Pension Fund also continues to be the largest direct local government pension investor in renewable energy and energy efficiency. But it has become clear that, despite this good work, we need to demand much more from the government and ourselves in dealing with the climate emergency, the greatest challenge of our generation. The second motion called upon Highways England to help us tackle the scourge of air pollution by reducing vehicle emissions on its road and motorway networks as a matter of urgency.  

I am confident that our new Budget balances all the priorities that we have identified for the next financial year. In every way, it is a Budget of delivery and of investing to grow. It takes strong but sustainable action to close the savings gap imposed upon us. It takes the fight to the climate emergency. It not just protects, but improves, our most vital services. And it lays the foundations to truly secure a bright future for Tameside.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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