Cash refund for Calderdale Council will almost plug £5m funding hole

Calderdale Council’s share of a rebate agreed by West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin will almost plug an estimated overspend in its budget.
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In the summer, Calderdale councillors were told the authority was projected to overspend by around £5 million unless action was taken, with officers instructed to look for savings.

But a new agreement by the mayor and council leaders, including Calderdale’s Coun Jane Scullion, will see £51 million returned to the local authorities who contribute to West Yorkshire Combined Authority to relieve budget pressures.

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The cash being returned to councils comes from The West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund reserve, which funds long-term infrastructure projects in the region.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West YorkshireTracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire

The amounts differ depending on their populations but Calderdale, which has a population of 206,600, will get back £4,493,611.

Nationally, financial situations have seen a number of councils, most notably Birmingham, declare effective bankruptcy and only able to provide core services.

West Yorkshire council Kirklees is battling to make cuts to avoid making a similar order.

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Mayor Brabin said: “Councils across West Yorkshire and beyond are facing the perfect storm of government austerity cuts and high inflation.

“Because of devolution, I’ve been able to work with them to identify this support at a time of need.”

Referencing austerity, she said the Government should “stop passing the buck for their mismanagement of the economy and properly fund local government for the long-term”.

Coun Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said the money would be very welcome.

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“Like all councils, we have significant ongoing pressures,” she said.

“The £110 million of budget savings we’ve had to find over the past decade impacts on what we do every day.

“However, we again delivered a balanced budget last year and we remain ambitious for Calderdale."

Of the other four councils, Bradford - with a population of 546,400 - will get back £11,884,363, struggling Kirklees – with a population of 433,300 – will get back £9,424,404, Leeds – with a population of 812,000 – will get back £17,661,242 and Wakefield - with a population of 353,300 - will get back £7,684,380.

The refunds to all five authorities – population 2,351,600 – totals £51,148,000.