Alternative proposals published ahead of budget meeting

Councillor Scott Benton leader of the Calderdale Conservative Group
Councillor Scott Benton leader of the Calderdale Conservative Group

The Conservative Group in Calderdale has published its alternative Council budget ahead of the meeting where council leaders from across all political parties will make its final decision on proposals.

The Labour-led Council’s Cabinet revealed their budget proposals last month which it says are essential so that it can continue to balance the books.

The Council’s proposals include a 1.95% rise in Council Tax rates in the three years to 2019/20 and using the Social Care Precept to raise Council Tax bills by a further three per cent in both 2017-18 and 2018-19.

However leader of the Conservative Group in Calderdale, Coun Scott Benton, said: “It remains a source of great disappointment that the current administration here in Calderdale lack the leadership, vision and the capability to rise to the challenges that the Council faces.

“Throughout this period, Council Tax has also risen as a consequence of the unwillingness of the current administration to consider reasonable reductions in non-essential expenditure.

“In this year’s Budget, the current administration have attempted to adopt a more commercial approach and have proposed some reasonable and moderate savings in areas which the Conservative Group can support.

“However, as in previous years, this remains a Budget of missed opportunities.”

The Conservative Group are proposing a rise in Council Tax of 2.94%.

Some of the main points of the Conservative Budget include:

Delivering services in a more cost effective way by generating savings by working with other agencies where appropriate to deliver services and to outsource some services which may be delivered more efficiently by another provider (£350 000 saving p/a).

Reducing the cost of sickness absence among staff (£400 000 saving p/a); moving to a system of performance related pay and spot salaries for staff (£500 000 saving p/a); removing the one per cent inflation pay rise for 45 senior Council Officers who earn above £50 000 per annum (£37 000 saving p/a); and delivering some public health initiatives in conjunction with other council services (£100 000 saving p/a).

Reducing non-essential expenditure by reducing the number of councillors from 51 to 36 (£160 000 saving p/a), and reviewing the level of special responsibility allowances (£5 000 saving p/a) and travel expenses that they currently receive (£5 000 saving p/a).

Review the payments to outside lobbying organisations such as the Local Government Association (£50 000 saving p/a); hold elections every four years as some other parts of the country do (£90 000 saving p/a); and reduce spending on translation services (£20,000 saving p/a).

Generating additional income through the Council’s trading company which offers significant opportunities in the long-term (£75 000 saving p/a).

Develop new models for delivering social care (£400 000 saving p/a).

Make additional resources available for those who wish to learn English and to promote British values and citizenship (an extra £200 000 p/a will be introduced into the Budget to fund this.)