Calderdale Council is in the process of completing an updated risk and impact assessment on the potential impact of Brexit on the borough.
With the United Kingdom due to leave the European Union in March 2019, the council is updating information it holds and results will be presented by Chief Executive Robin Tuddenham to the council’s Audit Committee this autumn.
READ: Calderdale constituencies shift from Leave to Remain over Brexit
The assessment takes into account what the council knows at present about the potential implications of different scenarios, with updates being made as the situation changes to enable it to react proactively.
In response to a Freedom of Information request about Brexit planning, the council said it does not keep a specific earmarked reserve for the impact of Brexit but holds a minimum level of general balances of £5 million on a risk-based approach to address the financial implications of any unforeseen events which have not been budgeted for.
In the meantime Cabinet has this week (Sep 3) recommended full council approves its Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) but the MTFS’s Risk and Sensitivity Analysis says at the moment political considerations, which would include Brexit, are sufficiently uncertain not to be included as a specific item.
The report says: “For many of the reforms listed above the implications on individual local authorities will not be known until sometime in 2019.
“Clearly Brexit is still an unquantifiable uncertainty for the national economy and any deterioration of the economy could lead to further austerity measures imposed on local government.
“In addition to this macro risk there is the specific effect that Brexit could have on the council itself in terms of the resources (human and physical goods) it depends on to deliver its services.
“This is a particular risk that needs to be planned for as we move into 2019.”
Leader of Calderdale Council, Labour Coun Tim Swift, said there was still a great deal of uncertainty about Brexit and the implications it might have on local authorities.
“However, it’s important that Calderdale Council is prepared for all eventualities and we’re working across a number of key areas to analyse the potential impact.
“A report setting out the challenges we may face, assessment of risk and impact is currently being completed and will be presented to our Audit Committee by our Chief Executive in October this year.
“We are already working hard to ensure that our local economy isn’t adversely affected by the impact of Brexit and our business event next week – Tomorrow’s Business: Beyond Borders – is an example of this planning.
“Our response will develop as issues around Brexit are resolved nationally, but our careful planning will ensure we are prepared and can proactively respond to future implications,” he said.
Conservative group leader on the council, Coun Scott Benton (Brighouse) said feedback he was receiving from people about Brexit, whether they had voted Remain or Leave, was they just wanted the Government to get on with the job and Prime Minister Theresa May was doing this.
“The Prime Minister is working to get the best possible deal for the UK and for the Calder Valley from Brexit.
“However people voted in the Referendum, the feedback I receive on the doorstep is that most people now just want the Government to get on with the job and that’s exactly what they are doing,” he said.
Liberal Democrat group leader Coun James Baker (Warley) said he had asked for Brexit to be added to the council’s formal risk register at the last meeting of Calderdale Council’s Audit Committee and the committee had agreed, despite some opposition from the Conservatives that it be added.
“As a former Boy Scout I was always taught to ‘be prepared’. Whilst we hope for the best it is important that the council makes contingency plans for the worst.
“There is a real possibility that a no deal Brexit will cause food shortages, economic recession and civil disorder,” he said.