Calderdale leaders to consider where they can save millions of pounds over the next three years.

Calderdale councillors will have to consider where they can save millions of pounds over the next three years.

Thursday, 11th November 2021, 9:11 am

Among financial reports Cabinet members were debating the authority’s Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) showing savings of £3.2 million in 2022-23 then another £5.3 million in 2024-25 are likely to be needed to balance the books.

Around £2.2 million of savings still have to be made in the current council year, said Cabinet member for Resources, Coun Silvia Dacre (Lab, Todmorden) when amounts related to COVID-19 are taken out.

Main areas of concern are rising costs for statutory requirements including packages for all-age disabilities and placements for looked-after children, and school transport for children with special educational needs.

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Cabinet members were debating the authority’s Medium Term Financial Strategy

Problems generating income to plug the gaps will continue for some while yet.

Government funding covers spend related to COVID-19 but did not cover this lost income, she said.

To tackle deficits, budget challenge meetings will continue, savings examined and the council will use £1.1m available for social care in contingencies, with any additional requirement coming from reserves, said Coun Dacre.

Members have frequently been warned not to let balances fall below £5 million, said a concerned Coun Steven Leigh (Con, Ryburn).

Coun Dacre replied: “We do have some reserves, it’s just that the report is very clear we do have to be extremely careful about how we use those reserves, and they cannot simply be used forever and ever to prop up our revenue budget.”

Coun James Baker (Lib Dem, Warley) said local authorities had been criticised for keeping reserves and had been told to spend them.

Councillors will soon be asked to look ahead, with the council having £115m less to spend by 2022-23 compared to what it could spend in its 2010 budget.

Cabinet endorsed and recommended to full council that members approve the Medium Term Financial Strategy and agreed to bring draft budget proposals forward for consultation.

Savings required will in large part be determined by the amount of future Government support, with the local government settlement announcement due in December, and the ability of the council to control its spending, councillors were told.

Coun Dacre said: “Even the best case scenarios are still going to have to look at making some cuts.

“We are trying to cut a budget that has already been severely cut.”

Cabinet approved council’s £138 million capital programme, with Coun Dacre saying if projects kept within budget, a small funding surplus might be achieved.

Seventy eight per cent of projects will be grant-funded and 17 per cent by prudential borrowing, the remainder from other sources.

Coun Baker urged the council to ensure the capital programme took in deprived areas of Calderdale – his own ward had recently lost out on a cycling and walking scheme.

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