Action is being taken to reduce an estimated budget deficit of £5.4 million in Calderdale this year, with service directors urged to “challenge every line” to make savings.
Directors were already pursuing measures they could take to save money to reduce this to £2.9 million by the financial year’s end next March, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet heard.
Cabinet member for Regeneration and Resources, Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said there were still a number of budget “unknowns” to contend with too, for example the weather in winter or demand for children’s services.
“We have made reasonable assumptions but there are a lot of variables there and also not known is what arrangements will be for adult social care,” she said.
Preparations were being made and service directors had been instructed to challenge every line in the budget, she said.
Cabinet heard that by the end of the year it was estimated that although centrally managed budgets and items controlled by the Chief Executive’s officer were set to be balanced by the end of the year, Adults and Wellbeing Services forecasted a £1.79 million overspend, Children’s and Young People’s Services a £679,000 overspend, Public Services a £200,000 overspend and Regeneration and Strategy also a £200,000 overspend.
Some of the services, particularly adults social care and children’s social services, are duties the council legally has to meet in addition to being areas it would wish to fund, in order to look after the borough’s most vulnerable citizens.
In context, the council is budgeted to spend around £161 million this year, but after around £100 million cut from its budget since 2010 it has very limited scope to use money for its balances and reserves to support services.
With uncertainties ahead such as how much Government revenue support grant councils across the country will get after this year, the ruling Labour group said when the 2019-20 budget was agreed in February that there will be a public consultation for Calderdale’s people to help shape what services they think the council should offer.
Cabinet did green light some good news – Calderdale will get around £111,000 from the Leeds City Region Pools Joint Committee, which has now disbanded.