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Leeds Council to debate axing 914 full-time jobs as council tax increase announced

Leeds City Council bosses are proposing to axe up to 914 full-time jobs as part of efforts to address a £119m budget deficit

Core council tax is set to rise by 1.99% as budget proposals for 2021/22 are presented to Leeds City Council’s executive board next week – but the final decisions won’t be finalised until February.

The board will also debate the adult social care precept of three per cent, which gives councils the power to increase tax by an additional three per cent to pay for social care. This would be on top of any council tax rise.

Executive board members will also hear that the council must still find an additional £5.3m of savings.

A detailed government settlement is yet to be delivered and is due in mid-December.

The Labour-ked authority says the cuts are due to the pressures of Covid and a failure of central government to provide enough cash to pay for adult social care in the city.

Proposed cuts affecting West Leeds include:

  • Demolishing the West Leeds Country Park Visitor Centre and glasshouse in Pudsey Park and moving the playground area.
  • Closure of up to half of the city’s bowling greens.
  • Closure of Richmond House care home in Farsley.
  • Reviewing opening hours and staffing rotas within Community Hub / Library provision across the city, with trade union and staff consultation on staffing reductions.
  • There are also plans to sell further council-owned buildings, including historic Abbey Mills in Kirkstall.
  • Efficiencies across venues, including Pudsey Civic Hall.
  • End of council funding for Christmas lights in communities across Leeds.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said:

“As a council over the last ten years we have consistently balanced our budget through prudent financial management. However the recent government spending review failed to provide sufficient funding for adult social care or to fully close the gap caused by pressures associated with COVID-19. 

“Like many other local authorities this leaves the council no option but to look for further savings.  We will also continue to engage with the Government to try and obtain further funding to help reduce the impact of budget pressures on services.

“We have already seen a number of valued colleagues leave the council and that impact will continue to be felt as more leave over the coming year. These are incredibly difficult times for Leeds City Council and none of these recommendations have been made lightly.

“Our staff are showing outstanding commitment, hard work and dedication during these unprecedented times. I would like to thank each and every one of them again for their efforts. They can be assured we will do everything possible to avoid compulsory redundancies.”

Highlights from the coming executive board meeting include:

  • At this stage in the decision-making process a 1.99% increase in core council tax has been proposed with further discussions to take place over how the Government’s proposed adult social care precept of 3% will be dealt with in this and future years. This will be finalised at full council in February.
  • COVID-19 has seen business rates reduce by £104.3m. The Government has provided £75.6m towards this, meaning the council has had to find savings to meet the shortfall of £28.7m. 
  • The council has submitted an application on behalf of Bradford, Calderdale, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield and York to form a business rates pool, which has the advantage of retaining business rates resources within the region rather than handing them back to central government.
  • The Spending Review 2020 announced a “pay pause” for all public sector workers with the exception of those earning below £24,000 who are to receive a minimum £250 increase. The council has therefore budgeted accordingly. 
  • £5.2m of savings proposals are to be put forward for consideration. These include a set of organisational design proposals to realign some services differently.
  • A potential reduction in workforce as a result of these proposals would be 97.5 full-time posts. Combined with savings proposals already considered by the executive board in September, October and November, total savings proposed are £63.4m with a potential overall reduction in the workforce of 914 full-time posts.

The budget documents can be read in full here.

1 COMMENT

  1. Libraries remain just about the only place left in the whole city where one can go and not be expected to spend any money at all. Free to all. In these times when so many are struggling financially, it’s absolutely shameful that LCC is considering closing libraries or reducing their hours.

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