Council tax in Kirklees increasing by 4.99% to help save £34.5 million

The local authority faced a £47 million shortfall in its budget earlier in the year.

The leader of Kirklees Council says the local authority has had to make 'painful decisions' in order to save £34.5 million in the next financial year.

The budget was approved at a full council meeting this evening (6 March). The spending proposals mean the council will set a balanced budget for the next financial year.

The local authority faced a £47 million shortfall in its budget earlier in the year, noting an increase in costs and demand for services like social care for adults and children, as well as the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, as the reasons.

The council says this new budget will 'help Kirklees avoid the fate of several other councils in England that have effectively declared bankruptcy or invited government intervention to help them balance their books.'

In December we reported that Kirklees wanted to avoid following other councils - such as Croydon, Northampton, and Birmingham - in issuing a Section 114 notice, which is what happens when a council’s expenditure looks set to exceed the resources it has available in a financial year.

What does the budget mean?

  • Council tax for residents will increase by 2.99% with a further 2% increase earmarked for social care services for older residents and local people with disabilities. In total, this means an additional £1.71 per week for an average Band D property.

  • To balance the council’s books, the budget includes £34.5 million in savings over the next financial year.

  • The streamlining of some services, increasing income such as parking charges and reducing some services altogether to save £34.5 million

  • It will see the council spend £258 million on care services for adults in 2024/25.

  • Spending on social care services for children will be £69 million.

  • The council’s plans also include £1.4 billion investment into the Kirklees economy over the next five years through its capital plan.

Councillor Cathy Scott, Leader of Kirklees Council said: “Councils across the country are setting their budgets in some of the most difficult circumstances in living memory.

“We’ve had to take painful decisions to give the council financial stability. But, at the same time, we’ve tried to stay true to our values. That means focusing our resources on the people who need our support most. It also means modernising and transforming services to make them as efficient as we can. And it means continuing to invest in our future, to bring jobs and opportunities to families and communities in every part of Kirklees.

Councillor Graham Turner, Cabinet Member for Finance and Regeneration said: “All our services, from safeguarding children to emptying bins, rely on stable funding. That’s why it’s been so important to deliver a balanced budget for residents. The alternative to a balanced budget would be worse for residents, local services and hard-working council staff.

“Since the cost-of-living crisis first hit, we’ve been reducing our costs relentlessly. We’ve frozen all but the most essential recruitment and spending. We’ve reviewed our investment programme and our use of buildings. But the challenges for all councils are bigger than that. That’s why we set out a long-term plan in the autumn that would reduce spending to match the pressures we face. This budget achieves that fundamental responsibility.

“Local government lives from hand to mouth, despite it delivering the services that we all rely on from looking after vulnerable children to providing adult social care, waste disposal and maintaining roads. Relying on funding from government for one year at a time makes it difficult to plan for the long term and deal with growing demand for services. We need a fair funding settlement that is for several years so that we can plan ahead and not be constantly budgeting for a single year.”

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