In response to the Government’s Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement 2021/22, the Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift, said:
“The financial pressures already facing local government after ten years of austerity have been magnified by the significant challenges of the COVID pandemic. The impact of the virus will be felt not just in the current year but potentially for many more years to come.
“So whilst we welcome the news that the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for 2021/22 will include extra money to meet COVID-19 costs and compensation for losses in income for the first three months, we do so cautiously. It is vital that the Government provides funding in full for the budget pressures and loss of income that local authorities will continue to experience for many months.
“Outside of the funding for COVID-19 costs, the headline was a 4.5% increase in spending power for local government, but this assumes an increase in Council Tax and the social care precept.
This leaves the Council is a very difficult position, as although we desperately need additional funding, we also know how much of a strain has already been placed on our local communities, with many struggling with the financial impacts of the virus.
“We also need further clarity on how services will be funded beyond the next year. The Government’s Finance Settlement and Spending Review only focuses on one year at a time, instead of the previous three-year forecasts. This makes it very difficult to undertake any longer-term financial planning and leaves us without a clear sustainable funding solution for local government in the difficult and uncertain years ahead.
“Once we have full details of the funding for Calderdale, Cabinet will be releasing its budget proposals for consultation on 11 January for a four-week period. Final decisions on the budget for 2021/22 and Council Tax will be made at the Council meeting on 22 February 2021.”