Councillors warn more cuts are likely in order to balance the books

Senior councillors are warning that more budget cuts are likely to have to be made in order to balance the books in the coming years.

Thursday, 5th August 2021, 9:20 am
Beacon Hill, Halifax.

Various departmental overspends are adding up to around £2.89 million to date this year, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet members were told in the first revenue monitor update of 2021-22.

As well as having spend more on measures to deal with COVID, the biggest pressures are in adults and wellbeing services and children and young people’s services, often for care packages the council legally has to provide.

Cabinet member for Resources, Coun Silvia Dacre (Lab, Todmorden) said COVID-19 was still affecting services and although the Government was likely to cover these this year difficulties would remain after that.

The report said costs to deal with the pandemic and income losses, for example through business rates and Council Tax and reduced revenue from sources such as parking charges, might continue into the future.

The report outlined measures being taken to reduce deficits, ranging from budget challenge sessions with directorates and the actions of directors to the Future Council programme.

Last year the Future Council programme introduced some service cuts to balance the budget and Coun Dacre warned there would likely be more when considering the next year’s budget, with future implications beyond that being considered in the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS), which covers several years and which will be updated later in the year.

Coun Dacre said if the council carried out the tasks set to reduce the budget pressures the situation would improve as the year goes on.

There was also the issue of any staff pay increase having to be met from balances, and Coun Steven Leigh (Con, Ryburn) wanted to know how this could be done as they were close to the level the council was recommended not to go under, £5 million.

Coun Dacre said there were some capital monies that had not been spent and using money from these was feasible but agreed this would only be a short term measure, and the MTFS would have to look at how these might be funded in the future – balances were about £5.2 million.

The pay rises were soimething the Government should be fully funding, she said.

“That is why we have to take the other steps that I have referred to and unfortunately that is likely to mean having to anticipate making further cuts.

“It is extremely difficult but in the short term it is a feasible solution,” she said.