Calderdale Council facing higher bills - while trying to save money

A council is braced for rising energy prices as the cost of living crisis bites on local authorities as well as its citizens.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Monday, 4th July 2022, 10:00 am

Savings of £279,000 on its budget by a Calderdale Council department helped relieve financial pressure in other parts of the directorate in the last council year.

But In the light of savings which still need to be made and rapidly rising gas and electricity costs, efforts will have to be redoubled, councillors heard.

Calderdale Council’s Corporate Asset and Facilities Management (CAFM) section, which manages the council’s buildings and estate, has a revenue budget of £12 million to meets the costs of running the authority’s premises.

Energy bills are rising for Calderdale Council as the cost of living goes up

It has a track record of delivering savings in line with the council’s budget decisions, a tough task in recent years, with a target of around £4 million worth of savings per year.

The £279,000 under spend on financial year 2021-22 has helped relieve pressure on the rest of the Regeneration and Strategy Directorate for that year.

But with energy costs more than doubling, savings will still have to be made on an ongoing basis.

In 2021-22, main savings of around £300,000 have come from staffing, and almost £520,000 has been saved on utility bills, with capita schemes which have seen a number of council buildings brought into the modern era with eco- and money-friendly heating and insulation schemes.

Grant funding has been available to cover much of the cost of these.

Members of the council’s CAFM Asset Management Board heard ongoing savings are still required particularly to offset prudential borrowing – local authorities can borrow money at lower interest rates for council capital project schemes.

And with rates for gas and electric skyrocketing for councils as well as businesses and individuals, the council is braced.

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“That is going to impact on the overall budget for CAFM in the current year,” he said.

Councillors heard an update will be provided later in the summer on the impact this might have.

The council has recently been notified by the Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation – centrally owned by many councils in the north and which aims to get the best deals available – that a 103 per cent increase is predicted this year for both gas and electricity.

Although the revenue budget for the service contains £1.8 million to meet these costs, the anticipated increase in costs attached to the council’s estate will have an effect on budgets and regular monitoring will take place and be reported to councillors.