During the course of the next financial year, £38m will be necessary by Leeds council to balance the books.
During the council’s first full meeting for the new year, an agreement on an increase of 4.99 percent in the council tax is expected. A social care precept of three percent is included, and this works out to an increase of £74 for families located in the average band D property. Additional increases may be seen after the total for the fire and police authority element has been finalized later on.
The expectation is the full budget proposals for the council will be rubber stamped next month. The leaders of the city have made a pledge to protect the critical services for the frontline. As the breakdown of the budget progresses, every key service area is being searched for potential savings.
The revenue budget for the city is for the new financial year, beginning on April 1st. The amount of £506m is a representation of the general fund for the council. These are the funds that will be available for the needs of the key services. This includes the business rates, the income accrued from the council tax and the annual revenue grant for the government. The council housing tenants rent is not included.
There has been a cut of 28 percent to the grant for the Leeds City Council’s Government this year to £18.5m. This is in addition to the £239m that has been cut since 2010. Based on the multi-year settlement for the government, there will be an additional shortfall of £14m. Despite the fact the shortage in the coffers is being offset by a boost of £27.5m from the tax rise of the council and the business rates, the accountants at the council are working very hard to find a savings of £38.2m by March of 2019.
A report specifically prepared so the draft budget could be explained stated the local government’s climate places the ambitions and priorities of the council at significant risk. The council plans to continue making all conceivable efforts to protect the delivery services of the front line. Since 2010, the council has found a way to balance the budget each year. A wide range of services have been delivered in spite of the decline of the income, and the issues of compulsory redundancies. The position of the council has become increasingly difficult to manage. The report did acknowledge the council must change the way they work in helping the people take care of themselves. The places the people work and live is considered to be the responsibility of both the citizens and the state.
The key numbers for the total revenue of the Leeds City Council 2018 revenue budget are a total of £506.17 million. The council must find a savings of £38.24m by March of 2019 to be able to balance the books. The reserves will provide £4m of the savings from earmarked funds. The savings and cuts to the major departments include £10.8m from Adults and Public Health, £10.8m from Children and Families, £5m from City Development, £4.9m from Resources and Housing, £6.5m from Communities and Environment and £3.2m from Strategic and Central budget.
The tax rise proposed by the council for 2018/2019 is an increase of 4.99 for each Leeds average band D home. The largest chunk of spending will be for the Children and Adults Services at 65.1 percent of the total revenue. The core funding will decrease £239m from the amount spent in 2010 for the 2017/2018 budget. From 2018 through 2021, the planned investment in the city is £1.2bn full time Council jobs with a cut of 53. This cut is much lower than the 400 originally anticipated.
The plans for the budget proposals include specific measures designed to increase the potential for savings, and shave the costs for numerous services run by the Council. This is referred to as efficiencies by the council. The list proposed includes reviewing the care packages for the adults currently in social care. This includes older individuals, and the potential savings is £3.5m. This additionally includes an implementation of improving the income collected from the services for community care to achieve a value of £1m. One suggestion is to increase the prices of several of the services run by the Council. This includes creating an increase in the opportunities available at the city’s parks and museums.
The other ideas proposed to the Council include a savings plan of £500,000 for the waste and management budget of the city. This would include analyzing the costs of the landfill site maintenance and replacement bins. A hike in the car parking charge has been suggested for the Woodhouse Lane car park. This would be an increase of fifty percent to the rate during the last three years. The additional suggestions included an expansion on street light switch off, savings for elections regarding hiring porta cabins, and reducing the number of wardens in the Council parking.
New cash must be located in an extensive list of different areas. The Leeds City Council will have the elections this year, and all 99 seats are available. The estimated cost to run in the elections is £1.1m. These costs are yet another on a long list of new funds that must be found this year by the Council. The staff’s minimum pay rate must be boosted by £600,000 according to the minimum pay rate for the local authority. This is so the National Living Wage can be implemented by adding £4.7m. An additional £3m must be earmarked for children in care, and various aspects of services for adult social care requires another £20m. The projected budget has set aside another £200,000 for May’s Tour de Yorkshire. What is interesting, is even though the city knows any hope for the title of the European Capital of Culture in 2023 is gone, £400,000 has been set aside for cultural legacy work next year.
As the Leeds City Council leader, Councillor Judith Blake feels current events are a reflection of living in Conservative austerity for eight years. She said the most vital public services including council services, the police, transport and the NHS have all been badly affected. Since 2010, the budget of the Council has been decreased forty percent. Next year the Council must find another savings of £38m so the services helping the most vulnerable individuals can be protected. This is why the budget for the Council has been increased for social care for both adults and children to more than 65 percent. These funds will make certain all Leeds children’s centers can stay open. Funding has also been used to help older individuals go home after being in the hospital with Recovery Hubs. This will take some of the pressure off the NHS and reduce re-admissions.
In order for these important services to remain protected, the priority must be with the people most in need in addition to increasing the Council tax and certain charges. The demand for social care services for the children and the older adults are rising in demand. This is not just occurring in Leeds because the funding gap is now £2bn nationally for children’s social care. This is the reason there was so much disappointment when this issue was ignored by the Chancellor during last month’s budget.
The meeting of the Leeds City Council is scheduled for Wednesday, and the coming years tax rate will be agreed on by the council. The proposals for the draft budget will not be voted on until the meeting in February.
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