Balancing the books in uncertain times


Calderdale Council has set a budget for 2019/20 against a backdrop of great financial uncertainty around the future funding of local authorities.

This uncertainty means that this year’s budget covers only the spending and savings decisions required in 2019/20 for which funding levels are known.

Whilst the Council approved additional investment in some key priority areas, it also agreed savings of just under £1million to balance the budget.

After declaring a ‘climate emergency’ at the last Council meeting on 30 January 2019, the Council will spend an additional £60,000 each year to act locally on global warming.

A £50,000 budget has been allocated to maintain and improve war memorials and other public memorials across Calderdale. Many were restored to commemorate the centenary of the First World War; however this did not include memorials for other conflicts such as the Boer War.

Extra funding will also be used to provide 20% more grit bins across the borough, so that communities are more resilient during wintry weather.

To help tackle areas of fly-tipping and other anti-social behaviour, an additional £50,000 will be invested in enforcement and street cleaning next year.

And £100,000 has been allocated to a two year pilot programme for school age children and young people who need support for their mental health and emotional wellbeing.

To achieve a balanced budget however, the Council must make savings of at least £980,000 in 2019/20 on top of those which have been agreed by the Council in previous years.

It is anticipated that further savings of £4.8million will be required in 2020/21 and £5.3million in 2021/22, although Government funding for local authorities over the next few years has not been confirmed.

The future spending plans of the Government along with a comprehensive review of how councils are financed are due to be announced later this year.

The Government has also delayed its green paper on social care, which will outline how care will be funded and delivered in the future.  The impact of the decision to leave the European Union is also unclear.

Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift said:

“It’s vital that we have a sensible, balanced and sustainable budget during these uncertain times.  This will allow us to continue to invest in those services which protect the most vulnerable people within our communities, but which are coming under the most pressure, particularly adults social care and supporting our looked after children.

“We are also committed to funding early intervention and preventative programmes, since these provide longer term benefits which will reduce pressure on services in the future.  And we will continue to do all we can to protect the most vulnerable from the impact of austerity.”

To allow the Council to maintain essential local services, there will be a 2.99% rise in Council Tax rates and to help fund the additional savings in 2019/20 the Council will:

  • Operate more commercially to maximise income and resources by making the most use out of capital funding, achieving more planning fee income from increased housebuilding, selling surplus assets, reducing the money paid to West Yorkshire Combined Authority and changing Council Tax exemptions.
  • Provide services more efficiently, making greater use of technology and equipment (especially in adults’ social care) and explore ways of reducing costs by delivering some activities in different ways.
  • Work more efficiently at lower cost in areas providing administrative support, including reviewing staff travel arrangements and streamlining how the Council itself operates on a democratic level.

The Council will hold a major public consultation later this year, when there will be greater certainty about government funding levels.  This will gauge opinion in our  communities and from our residents on the shape of future Council services and will guide future budget proposals.

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