Calderdale Council leader's focus on protecting the vulnerable in its budget

Leader of Calderdale Council Councillor Tim Swift
Leader of Calderdale Council Councillor Tim Swift

The leader of Calderdale Council has said protecting vulnerable people and balancing the books are the priorities for the Cabinet’s budget plans for 2019/20

The proposals were presented at a Cabinet meeting on Monday marking the start of a 28 day public consultation.

The Cabinet is required to make further savings of £900,000 to achieve a balanced budget in 2019/20 on top of those which have been agreed by Council in previous years. It is anticipated that savings of £6.7million will be required in 2020/21 and £7.6million in 2021/22.

The future spending plans of the Government along with a comprehensive review of how councils are financed are due to be announced later this year.

A major public consultation about the future structure and management of the Council will be held later this year, which will guide future budget proposals in subsequent years once there is greater certainty about government funding levels.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Tim Swift said: “Since 2010 the Council’s budget has reduced by over £100 million. The ‘additional’ funding announced in the Autumn budget for social care and highways must be balanced against plans previously set out by the Government which mean that overall central funding to Calderdale is continuing to reduce.

“In short, the amount of central government funding coming back to Calderdale next year will be less than half the amount that we received in 2010/11. And demand for our services, which protect the most vulnerable people in our communities, continues to rise.

“However whilst it’s inevitable, in these circumstances, that we are forced to make savings in some areas, we will continue, wherever possible, to minimise the impact on front-line services, protecting those that local people have told us they value the most.”

To help the Council maintain essential local services, the financial plan for 2019/20 retains the 2.99% rise in Council Tax rates agreed during last year’s budget process.

Additional Council money has been allocated to cover rising demand and costs in Adult’s and Children’s Social Care on top of £2.5m of extra Government funding.

An additional provision of £500k to help with winter maintenance/gritting costs has also been made should it be required to help protect road users and maintain other services during wintry conditions.

The Cabinet is proposing to continue its commitment to pay social care providers an additional £1.3 million in 2019/20 to raise staff pay, improve training and terms and conditions.

To help fund the additional savings, the Cabinet budget report proposes that in 2019/20 the Council will:

Operate more commercially to maximise income and resources by making the most use out of capital funding, achieving more planning fee income from increased housebuilding, selling surplus assets, reducing the money paid to West Yorkshire Combined Authority and changing Council Tax exemptions.

Provide services more efficiently, making greater use of technology and equipment (especially in Adults’ Social Care) and explore ways of reducing costs by delivering some activities in different ways.

Work more efficiently at lower cost in areas providing back-office support (including reviewing staff travel arrangements) and streamlining how the Council itself operates on a democratic level.