Budgeting to balance the books

Cllr Swift

Calderdale Council has published a budget forecast which provides a snapshot of the local authority’s finances for the next three years. 

The forecast is part of a report which will be considered by the Cabinet during the development of its budget proposals for 2019/20 and beyond.  

The Council’s revenue budget position takes account of what is known about future funding levels, costs pressures and expected demand for its services.   

The report also recommends that the Cabinet agrees to maintain the level of unallocated balances above £5 million over the next three financial years, in line with the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy.  This is money which the Council has set aside to help deal with major unforeseen events or emergencies. 

The Government’s Autumn Budget, published in October 2018, included some additional funding for local government and this has been included within the forecast.   

To help address winter-related and wider pressures within social care, more funding has been made available by the Government for adult and children’s services, and local authorities have received additional grants to tackle potholes and other highway repairs.  

However this additional funding needs to be balanced against plans previously set out by the Government which mean that overall central funding to Calderdale is reducing. 

Most of the detail about the funding the Council receives from central Government is set out in the Local Government Finance Settlement, which was announced on 13 December 2018.   

This also confirmed that Calderdale Council would be included in a new Business Rate retention pool pilot for North and West Yorkshire, which will allow the local authority to keep a 74% share of the money it raises from Business Rates during 2019/20. 

The settlement also allows the local authority to raise Council Tax by 3% in 2019/2020, without holding a referendum. 

Following the Government’s announcements on funding, the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy has been revised to show an improvement in the local authority’s position. Budget deficits of £0.9million in 2019/20; £6.7million in 2020/21 and £7.6million in 2021/22 are now anticipated.   

The Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift said: 

“After eight years of austerity I am pleased to see some limited recognition from the Government that local authorities are struggling to deliver the vital services on which our communities rely, and the extra funding announced for those areas which are experiencing the most pressure is of course welcome. 

“However, the additional funding which we have been given is only a small proportion of the £104.7 million we have had to save since 2010.  Demand continues to grow for Council services which safeguard the most vulnerable people in our community and so every year the challenge to balance the books and continue delivering services becomes harder.” 

Detailed budget proposals for 2019/20 will be presented by the Cabinet on 14 January 2019.  These will identify savings to ensure that the Council is able to set a balanced budget in the year ahead.   

The final budget proposals for 2019/20 will be agreed at Budget Council on 25 February 2019. 

The Cabinet will meet to discuss the budget forecast report at 6pm on Monday 14 January 2019 at Halifax Town Hall.

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