At a meeting last night (Monday 25 February) Calderdale Council agreed the budget for 2013/14 to 2015/16. Although the level of cuts is higher than it has ever been, the Council is determined to be strong for local people and use its resources and influence to build a good future for Calderdale towns and communities.
Whilst the Council needs to make sure that spending is reduced in many areas, some spending will increase. The Council will invest an additional £2 million in children’s social care and will continue to invest in our towns to attract and keep strong businesses.
There will be a small increase in council tax of 2 percent in 2013/14 to give some protection for frontline services. The Council recognises that this will be another pressure on household income, but this has to be balanced against the needs of vulnerable people, as more and more people need our services. The increase is still below the rate of inflation and is the first rise in council tax in Calderdale since 2009/10.
A Council tax benefit support scheme will be introduced and will be available to most residents who have been getting help under the old system. The Government has set a target of cutting the cost of this by 10 percent but the Council will continue to support residents for at least this year, while the impact of all the different benefit changes is still being tested.
Calderdale Council’s Leader, Cllr Tim Swift, said:
“It is vital for everyone that we build a stronger local economy to provide a future for our young people. We will create a £2.5 million fund to stimulate local economic regeneration and employment opportunities. We are also promoting the Living Wage for low-paid workers, starting with our own staff.
“We will continue to do our very best to provide good services for local people within the budget we have, however this is becoming increasingly difficult."
Calderdale Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Janet Battye, said:
“People want to protect the services we provide for vulnerable children and young people. We are investing in children’s social care and want to support local communities where we can. These are difficult times for everyone and these decisions haven’t been taken lightly. We will continue to work with local people to provide a future for everyone.”
By 2016 Calderdale Council will be spending £73.3 million, or 28 percent, less than the equivalent in 2010.
Calderdale also suffered flooding in the Upper Calder Valley in 2012, needing recovery activity and investment over a number of years.
The focus for Calderdale Council for the next three years is to:
- Invest in economy and infrastructure
- Transform social care
- Support children and young people
- Improve the way local people find and use our services, while helping them do things themselves in the community
- Achieve good value for money
Over the next two years the Council will work to secure investment to help address poverty, which currently affects up to 25 percent of households in Calderdale. Long-term rising energy costs may mean 1 in 3 households affected by fuel poverty by 2020. The Council is committed to projects that provide help with insulation and heating for lower income households who are at the greatest risk of fuel poverty.
The budget for 2013/14 to 2015/16 can be found on the Council’s website: Agreed Council Budget.