Council Tax may rise by 5%
Council tax in Kirklees looks set to rise by 5% – or just under £4 per month for a Band A household – from April, following a report to our Cabinet members.
The report – to be considered next week – will ask for a rise of 2% in general spend, with the additional 3% for social care proposed by government.
However councillors have been warned that this will still not balance the books and reserves will be needed.
We still face savings of a further £50 million by 2021. In previous years, reserves have been used to smooth changes, but usable reserves have now fallen from £93 million to £42 million, with a further £26 million earmarked for use already.
This year, for the first time, the proposed budget will cover four years.
Cllr David Sheard, leader of Kirklees Council shares his views:
We face a massive financial challenge
“We have made significant savings – over £120m – through efficiencies and transformation, with further savings budgeted – but even after these are applied the scale of the financial challenge is massive. Kirklees is still the 8th worst funded council nationally, and the second worst funded Metropolitan council in the country per head of population.”
There will be a further reduction in services
“We have reduced services across all sectors – some more visible than others, for example changing the way we collect waste to save money. But we continue to face our most serious ever financial challenge so many more services will be reduced, removed or taken on by other people or organisations.
Government funding has been cut
“Past decisions taken in good faith are also now costing us. We were told that if we froze our council tax, a 0% rise for our residents, we would receive the cash we would have gained from a 2% increase. That money has not been added into the base budget, it was to come through grant and now that grant has been cut. It is costing us £14 million every year. Withdrawing revenue support grant will cost us £33 million over the next four years.
Our plan for the future
“We will continue to invest in our priorities of making sure those most vulnerable are supported and we have obvious pressures in some areas like children’s services where the right thing to do is to continue to invest.
“But we must focus on our top priorities and do fewer things ourselves, with partners, volunteers or community groups taking on other services they want to keep.”
More information about the budget meeting
Once Cabinet has made a recommendation on Tuesday 31 January, full council will meet to discuss the budget and make a final decision on Wednesday 15 February.
Cabinet meeting agenda papers are available on the council’s website