Residents face Council Tax hike and rise in cost of services

Leader of Calderdale Council Councillor Tim Swift
Leader of Calderdale Council Councillor Tim Swift

Calderdale residents face a price hike in Council Tax for 2018-19 and could end up paying more for Council services in budget plans revealed by leaders.

The Labour-led Council budget proposals include a three per cent rise in Council Tax rates in 2018-19, and a further three per cent in 2019-20, reducing to two per cent in 2020-21.

The Cabinet is also proposing to use the Social Care Precept to raise Council Tax bills by a further three per cent in 2018-19.

Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift said the proposals will enable the COuncil to provide high quality care for frail and vulnerable people, and to help meet increasing demand as the population ages.

“Whilst the Council’s budget position is very challenging and it is essential that we balance the books, we also need to target investment into those areas which need it most.

"Already two thirds of the Council’s total spending is on adults’ and children’s social care, and this need will continue to grow.

“As our overall spending remains tightly limited, this inevitably means that fewer resources are available for the universal ‘front line’ services, such as looking after parks, keeping the streets clean and dealing with waste and recycling. But we know that these are important to local people, so we have done everything we can to protect these services as far as possible.

“We must also make sure that the Council has a robust three year budget, that’s sustainable beyond 2020. That means that we need to continue to deliver our major infrastructure projects including tackling congestion on the A629, the £40 million scheme to transform Halifax town centre and our £22 million investment in new LED street lighting, which will improve lives and help to build prosperity across the borough in the years to come.”

The Council has already planned to increase funding for adults’ and children’s social care over the next three years, within its medium term financial strategy.

This allocated funding of £3.7 million in 2018-2019, £4.5 million in 2019-20 and £5.2 million in 2020-21, to allow the Council to provide the right support for looked after children and to ensure that care workers are paid the National Living Wage.

The budget proposals identify some areas of additional investment for services which require extra support:

- additional funding for winter maintenance and gritting;

- targeted funding to help tackle poverty and homelessness;

- continued funding for the emergency living scheme to support those affected most by the changes to benefit schemes and

- an additional fire safety building control officer which was a recommendation within the fire safety review following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower.

To save money there will be some changes to Council services and these are outlined in the Cabinet’s budget proposals. These include:

- reducing the number of managers and other staff by merging teams and moving more services on-line;

- working more effectively with our partners in the health sector to maximise the resources we jointly;

- funding different priorities from the public health budget;

- increasing the charges from some services that the Council provides, such as bereavement services;

- reducing some of the money paid to West Yorkshire Combined Authority and

- spending on IT, staff training and other internal support services.

The draft proposals, which were presented at a Cabinet meeting on Monday January 15 2018 at Halifax Town Hall, cover the next three financial years to 2020/21.

All responses will be considered before the final recommendations are made by Cabinet on Monday February 12 2018.

Final decisions will be taken at the Annual Budget Council meeting at 6pm on Monday February26 2018 at Halifax Town Hall.