Council plans new approach to avert £65m budget crisis

KIRKLEES Council has agreed a new budget strategy to tackle huge cuts from central government. 

The four-year plan will attempt to offset reduced funding settlements up to the year 2020.

Council officials must now submit an efficiency plan to the government, identifying how they will achieve planned savings.

Funding to local government has been cut nationally by 40 per cent since 2010 and it is expected to be cut by a further 32 per cent over the next four years.

Council leader David Sheard said: “In effect we have had our budget halved over the last six years and yet we are expecting even deeper cuts to our budget over the lifetime of this plan.

“This is at the same time as demand for our services is increasing, we face inflation pressures and there has been a rise in the costs of waste and provision for children and adult social care.”

Due to cuts from Westminster, forecasted gaps in the budget will be £28m next year, increasing to £41m in 2018/19, £51m in 2019/2020 and £65m in 2020/2021.

The Council says it has agreed a “new approach” which will “fundamentally change the relationship between the council, residents and businesses”.

Coun Sheard said: “Kirklees is the eighth-worst funded council in the country in funding per head of population – we are the second-worst funded metropolitan council.

“Without serious action, our budget gap by 2021 would be £65m and most of our available reserves used up.

“We cannot rely on reserves to balance budgets, we need to significantly change our spending patterns.

“There are things we can do around our own costs, but achieving these kinds of savings will mean doing things very differently in the future.”

Council officers are now working on a range of proposals for councillors to consider to reduce the funding gap.

Another round of budget consultations with members of the public will take place in October and November.

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