Final plans to increase council tax by nearly four per cent, while cutting £22m worth of services, are set to go before Leeds City Council decision-makers next week, writes Richard Beecham.
A report to be considered by the authority’s executive board next week details the council’s final spending plans for the 2019/20 financial year.
The authority says the changes need to be made to respond to rising demand on social care services and a cut in annual core government funding of £266m since 2010.
Initial budget proposals released in December have now been updated following confirmation about funding from central government, and public consultation, during which the council received 1,241 survey responses.
The council states updated figures show that main government funding for Leeds will reduce by another £15.2m next year. The council is proposing a 2.99 per cent rise in council tax, added to by an additional one per cent precept to support the rising pressures on adult social care services.
The proposed budget also shows plans to reduce the council workforce by 69 full-time-equivalent members of staff, but added the council’s minimum wage rate will rise to £9.18 per hour – 18 pence above the so-called Real Living Wage.
Leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake said:
“Another very challenging year lies ahead with our funding being cut again and our costs rising. In this climate the role of council tax becomes ever more important year on year, as it is needed to go further and further to protect front-line services and support our most vulnerable residents.
“We also face significant financial uncertainty in the coming year as this is the last year of our funding agreement with the government and so far we have had no indication as to what happens next, which means we cannot plan ahead in the way we normally would, which is deeply frustrating and concerning.
“Despite these challenges, we continue to manage the council’s finances in the most prudent and robust way we can, constantly being open to new ideas, innovations and ways of working and doing everything we can to tackle poverty and inequality as a compassionate city with a strong economy. That approach will continue to guide everything we do over the next 12 months.”
The report is set to be debates at an executive board meeting on Wednesday, February 13, before going to a final vote at a full council meeting on February 27.