Calderdale Council faces challenge of making £44 million of savings
Calderdale council will have to deliver £44.1m more in savings over the next five years to balance the books – providing financial assumptions do not change.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet has recommended a five-year Mid Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for approval by the full council.
It shows Calderdale will have to make savings of £4m in 2020/21, £7m in 2021/22, £8.5m in 2022/23, £11.9m in 2023/24 and £12.7m in 2024/25.
Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Regeneration and Resources, Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said these were on top of the £114m of savings the council had been forced to make since 2010.
She said the MTFS helped the council services and projects going forward and it was a document that could be revised if circumstances changed.
Key assumptions used in the forecast included Council Tax increases of just below two per cent per year, further austerity measures but not as serious as those already experienced and assumed increases in the number of homes within Calderdale in line with the Local Plan.
There were also major areas of uncertainty, she said, including Brexit, austerity measures, the 2019 Government Spending Review, the Government’s Fair Funding Formula, the National Funding Formula for Schools and re-setting of Business Rates and the introduction of 75 per cent rates retention in 2020/21 or 2021/22, the latter also included in the key assumptions.
Budget proposals would be made around the turn of the year with a month for consultation before Budget Council in February.
Coun Scullion said despite the cuts so far, which had seen the council lose 1,000 employees, it was rated by its external auditors as a well-managed council financially.
She was particularly concerned with discussion for the new funding system for local government.
“There was some talk about replacing within the formula for local government some of the indicators for deprivation,” said Coun Scullion.
The MTFS normally took in three years but was being extended to five, she said, “to more fully understand what is facing us if some of the assumptions in here don’t change.”
“What is facing us is most extraordinary – a perfect storm of increased demand and reduced resources,” said Coun Scullion.
The Leader of the Council, Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town), said these were extraordinary times.
“This is assuming another year’s continuation of what will be 10 years of austerity when it seems now we have a Prime Minister who has perhaps suggested austerity wasn’t necessary, from the announced spending analysis,” he said.
Adult social care costs and funding were concerns with some financial help for them rolled over, but if that stopped, said Coun Swift, it would be “quite devastating.”