In her latest Reporter column, Tameside Council's Executive Leader, Cllr Brenda Warrington, discusses the unveiling of the authority's Budget for 2020/21.
The familiar surroundings of Guardsman Tony Downes House in Droylsden were the setting for the unveiling of the council’s Budget for 2020-21 last Tuesday, building on the strong foundations we have built in past years to usher a transformation of Tameside as we know it.
However, we know that we can only do that if our finances remain sustainable.
Money from council tax makes up just 18 per cent of our spending, and ten years of government cuts are 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 investment promises, the Budget calls for an increase in council tax of 3.99 per cent, which includes a two per cent increase in the adult social care precept.
This is not a decision that we have taken lightly, and we have also made the decision that our residents should not shoulder the financial burden we face alone.
Therefore, this Budget authorises the release of £12.4 million from our reserves. Since we can’t, and won’t, 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.
The Full Council meeting also heard motions highlighting our commitment to protecting the environment, including the declaration of a climate emergency and calling upon Highways England to tackle the scourge of air pollution.
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, 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.
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.