North East Lincolnshire

Extra £1.3m “sticking plaster” as councillors approve 2.98% tax hike

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Senior councillors at North East Lincolnshire have called £1.3 million of extra social care funding from government a “sticking plaster over a massive wound that’s getting worse” as they approved budget proposals including a 2.98% tax increase.

The authority’s cabinet  was told that the increase for 2018/19 could raise £61.2 million over the next year, though £4.9 million is ring-fenced for adult social care.

The move is in line with budget plans passed last March.

North East Lincolnshire Cabinet. Photo: Daniel Jaines

Councillor David Watson, deputy leader, outlined to fellow cabinet members how an extra £1.3 million social care settlement was “not enough”.

He said, however, that the authority was “in a better position because of the tough decisions” they made earlier.

During the meeting, leader Ray Oxby said:  “This is only glossing over the problem and paying lipsevice to a problem facing many authorities.”

He told his cabinet the the authority was “rising to the challenge, operating a prudent budget and working with partners to prevent some of the bigger problems,” adding that the tax rise was made “with reluctance to operate legally, soundly and with a balanced budget”.

Leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, Councillor Ray Oxby. Photo: Daniel Jaines

Following the meeting, he told Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Jaines that underfunding of authorities meant “the future is very uncertain” due to government cutbacks.

“Austerity since the Conservative government came in in 2010 has led to an £80m reduction in our revenue fund. We’re now at £120m, of which 70% goes to adult social care and children’s services.

“Even though we got a £1.3m social care support grant from government, that’s just putting a plaster over a massive wound that’s getting worse.

” The government have cut back and said it’s local choice but if we don’t do it we face being taken to court for failing to deliver statutory duties.

“We’re being handed very poor cards from government.”

The rise comes as authorities across the country are looking at other avenues of income in the face of funding cuts.

Councils are expected to see a further reduction in their revenue support grant, the main source of funding from central government.

Mr Oxby said the authority was “quite active in challenging” its own spend and pointed to proposals such as the town deal, work to create new jobs and increases business rates.

He added that a recent nomination for a national award gave him confidence, going forward.

Full council will be asked to give final approval next month.

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