A report presented to Leeds City Council’s Executive Board today set out more savings proposals for the financial year 2021/22 in an attempt to address the significant impact of coronavirus and ongoing reductions in funding.
It detailed the actions has started and proposed to address the financial gap for 2021/22 which is currently estimated at £118.8m. Of this figure £59.7m is due to pressures identified prior to the impact of coronavirus with the balance of £59.1m resulting from the ongoing financial impact of COVID-19. The report comes on top of savings proposals put forward in September and October. To view the reports, please see the notes to editors section.
A further £17.6m of potential savings were presented for consideration with an anticipated reduction in the workforce of 199 full time posts. The total anticipated reduction in the workforce now stands at 816 full time posts, but the council is doing all it can to avoid compulsory redundancies.
Further proposals regarding the reorganisation of services and facilities were also presented. All proposals will be subject to a full consultation with staff, trade unions and stakeholders and through designated public consultations as appropriate.
Proposals presented included:
- Ceasing childcare delivery from the Firthfields Little Owls site and relocate Children’s Centre Family Services from Garforth Academy to this building. Due to competition in the area, Little Owls has run at only 30% capacity for several years.
- Closure of three community buildings at; Lewisham Community Centre, Morley; Allerton Bywater Youth centre and Windmill Youth Centre, Rothwell. Alternative provision and alternatives in the local areas will be made available to those affected.
- A 10% reduction of funding to a number of discretionary services with working age adults equating to £381,000.
A report detailing the steps the council is taking to make savings through the rationalisation of its property estate and by accelerating the disposal of properties was also presented to executive board.
- Disposal of four industrial units within the council’s Investment Portfolio at Logic Leeds – the 100 acre manufacturing and distribution park off Pontefract Lane.
- Sale of Abbey Mills in Kirkstall. This Grade II listed building has been the subject of ideas explored by Kirkstall Valley Development Trust who sought to bring forward a refurbishment scheme for the building. However, due to limited grant funding opportunities they have been unable to proceed with their plans.
- Disposal of the Park Lees development site, St Anthony’s Road, Beeston.
- Release some of the council’s core office buildings which are no longer fit for purpose. As the council embraces greater levels of home working, retained buildings will be remodelled to support greater collaboration/ staff interaction – these are included within confidential papers.
Commenting on the latest proposals, the leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake has again called for more financial support to be provided by government to meet the increased budgetary challenges faced by the council due to coronavirus.
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said:
“The impact of coronavirus combined with national reductions to local government budgets over the last decade has been of a scale nobody could have predicted. There is no doubt that without further national funding there is a major risk to the services and facilities the council offers to the people of Leeds.
“We will make every effort to protect frontline services and we will do everything possible to not make compulsory redundancies. However, some incredibly tough decisions now need to be taken because of the impact of the pandemic following a decade of austerity.
“We continue to engage and speak with government regarding this issue and we are pressing the case on behalf of the people of Leeds. If the government listens and supports the council with more funding then the financial gap in next year’s budget will become smaller and the impact on council services will reduce.”
To read the full report detailing the Revenue budget update 2021/22 and budget savings proposals, please see: www.democracy.leeds.gov.uk
To view the steps the council are taking to make savings through the rationalisation of its property estate and by accelerating the disposal of properties, which was also presented to the executive board, please see: www.democracy.leeds.gov.uk