Funding challenges continue as Leeds City Council releases initial budget plans for 2020/21
Council tax is proposed to rise by 3.99 per cent in Leeds next year in order to meet rising costs and demand on services as part of initial budget plans released by Leeds City Council.
In a report to be considered by the council’s executive board at Civic Hall on Tuesday 7 January, the budget proposal for 2020/21 shows how the council aims to deliver a further £23.24million of savings over the next financial year.
The need to achieve additional savings continues a pressure the council has faced for the last decade, a period in which core funding from government has been reduced by approximately £266m, a 59 per cent cut overall between 2010 and 2020.
The Local Government Finance Settlement has been delivered with the figures for Leeds in line with expectations. It contains one-year funding agreements for next year with a spending review to be carried out by the government to determine the funding position after 2021.
The council’s approach to next year’s budget continues its commitment to tackling poverty and inequalities in the city through strengthening the economy and being compassionate and caring, with 61.6 per cent of the council’s overall budget being allocated to supporting adults and health, children and families.
Despite this, rising costs and demand means two per cent of the council tax increase will be dedicated to adult social care funding. With population growth forecasts predicting a continued rise in the numbers of people aged 85-89 over the next five years, the additional £6.6m raised through the adult social care precept will contribute towards meeting increasing care costs associated with a growing population, providing support for vulnerable older people in Leeds.
A further £1.4m has also been set aside to provide for anticipated growth in need to support looked after children in the city, as part of the ongoing commitment to children and families which includes no council-managed children’s centres having been closed in Leeds.
Council tax in Leeds is currently the second-lowest of the English core cities, with the level for Band D properties being lower than in Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle, Liverpool, Bristol and Nottingham.
As an organisation, the council itself will continue to focus on being efficient and enterprising, with three elements underpinning its approach; inclusive growth, health and wellbeing and climate change. Climate change will factor into all aspects of decision-making following the council’s declaration of a climate emergency earlier this year.
The council will continue to be a real living wage employer, with minimum pay levels being the Living Wage Foundation rate of £9.30. In terms of staffing levels, the budget for 2020/21 sees the position from previous years continue with no proposals for large-scale compulsory redundancies, as the council has reduced in size by over 3,000 employees between 2010 and 2019.
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said:
“The financial position remains challenging with another year ahead where significant savings need to be made. We remain committed to protecting frontline services and investing in support for our most vulnerable young people, families and adults, as well as creating opportunities for everyone in all of our communities.
“Despite these challenges, we will keep doing everything we can to tackle poverty and inequality as a compassionate city with a strong economy, continuing to lobby for the resources we need, embracing new ideas and supporting innovation. Everything we do will also be mindful of the impact of climate change, in keeping with our declaration of a climate emergency earlier this year as we strive to make Leeds a carbon-neutral city.”
The 2020/21 initial budget proposals will now be considered by councillors and stakeholders, together with a survey running on the council’s website after the executive board meeting on 7 January.
The final plans will then be discussed by the executive board on Wednesday 12 February before being debated and voted on at the full council meeting on Wednesday 26 February.
To see the initial budget proposals for Leeds for 2020/21, go to www.democracy.leeds.gov.uk