Calderdale Council set to cut services or increase incomes to balance the books

Immediate and medium term efforts to balance Calderdale Council’s books – with a warning more savings will be needed – are expected to be endorsed by senior councillors.

Thursday, 4th November 2021, 10:11 am
Forecasts indicate Calderdale Council will need to make more savings, achieved by service cuts or increasing income

Forecasts indicate Calderdale Council will need to make more savings, achieved by service cuts or increasing income.

On Monday, November 8, from 6pm (and screened via the council’s Public-i channel), Calderdale Council Cabinet members will be considering a number of financial reports.

This year, 2021-22, directorates are currently forecasting overspends of £9.502m – of this, £5.304m is estimated to be the effect of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – and there are underlying service pressures of £4.198m.

The Government has provided funding to help the council tackle COVID related costs and action by service directors is likely to reduce the underlying deficit to £2.159m.

Cabinet councillors are asked to agree a proposed approach to contain overspending at the year’s end.

Measures include, following best, ongoing and permanent solutions by directorates to contain spending, to meet this in the first instance by using a sum of £1.1m available for social care in contingencies, with any additional requirement coming from reserves.

From this pool of available funding, any not required to cover overspendings this year will be carried forward in reserves to meet budget pressures in future years.

Councillors are warned this only provides temporary relief as the £1.1m for social care is only available in the current year and use of reserves simply defers problems.

Members have frequently been warned not to let balances fall below £5 million, a figure already neared in recent years.

Pressures in 2021-22 include funding social care packages for vulnerable adults and young people, which are a legal requirement, and costs related to the Local Plan.

As well as supporting service Directors to reduce this year’s deficit – forecast to be reduced to £2.159m by a number of measures – councillors are also asked to look ahead to the medium term.

Although the council has plans in place to save £115m by 2022-23 when compared to what it could spend in its 2010 budget, its Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) shows councillors still have to save £3.2m in 2022-23 then another £5.3m in 2024-25.

Cabinet is asked to recommend to full council that members approve the MTFS, bring draft budget proposals forward for consultation and note potential risks to financial plans.

The amount of savings required will in large part be determined by the amount of future Government support and the ability of the council to control its spending, councillors are told.

Cabinet are also asked to approve the council’s Capital Programme of £138.931m – the amount anticipated will be incurred in the next three years, funded by a combination of grants, reserves, prudential borrowing and pooled resources.

Further Government funding for such schemes, for example ongoing A629 highway works, may see the council achieve a funding surplus of £2.085m over three years but only if schemes remain within budget and an expected £2.536m is brought in from sale of assets.