‘Radical approach’ needed in Calderdale to meet £13m savings

Concillor Tim Swift outside Halifax Town Hall.
Concillor Tim Swift outside Halifax Town Hall.

The leader of Calderdale Council has said a ‘radical approach’ is needed to meet extra savings worth more than £13m in the next three years.

Councillors have been told the budget gap is in addition to planned savings which will already add up to £13.1m.

In common with councils across the region, Calderdale has been making large scale cuts in recents years as Government support for councils is reduced as part of austerity measures.

Coun Tim Swift, Calderdale Council’s Leader, said: “The Council is already working towards making savings of £93 million by 2017/18 compared to our budget in 2010. We now estimate that we’ll need to save another £13.3 million each year by 2019/20, meaning we face substantial challenges in the years ahead, which call for a radical approach to successfully balance the books.

“So far, we have done a good job in maintaining frontline services whilst coping with increasing levels of funding cuts. But as the central government reductions continue, this will continue to get harder and we will keep telling central government that they need to provide fair funding for the services local people rely on.

“However, we will rise to those challenges and we are still ambitious for Calderdale. Our prudent approach to budgeting and new ways of working mean that we still aim to deliver major projects to benefit the whole area, such as transport improvements, flood repairs and prevention, and housing schemes whilst protecting vital services.”

The latest figures. to be presented to senior Calderdale councillors next week, come as the authority starts to plan its budget for the next financial year.

The council’s cabinet will be told that the authority’s financial forecasts have been revised after the then chancellor, George Osborne, warned in March that the Government was seeking further savings to keep its plans to balance the books by 2020 on track.

However, in the aftermath of the referendum on Britain’s EU membership Mr Osborne dropped the 2020 target and it remains to be seen what approach the new Government under Theresa May will take.

The report to Calderdale Council’s cabinet warns that the new forecast assumes that council tax will be raised by almost two per cent in each of the next three years.

It also includes further two per cent rises in each of the next two years through the ‘social care precept’ where the Government allows councils to raise additional tax if it is ringfenced to meet care costs.

The Council has said its priorities are to grow the economy by having thriving businesses and creating jobs and skills; reduce inequalities in society, health, attainment levels and money; and build a sustainable future for Calderdale by protecting the environment.