Leeds, Leeds Star
Since Leeds City Council announced its initial budget proposals for 2017/18 in December last year, the government has acknowledged the major pressures on adult social care services across the country.
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Further council tax rise proposed to fund adult social care pressures

An extra £2.7m to pay for the growing costs of caring for Leeds increasingly older population could be raised by a proposed further 1% increase in council tax in the city to a total 4.99%.

Since Leeds City Council announced its initial budget proposals for 2017/18 in December last year, the government has acknowledged the major pressures on adult social care services across the country. It has proposed that councils further raise the amount they charge locally to help address the shortfall in national funding.

This extra 1% is part of a raft of proposals by the council to invest in caring for the city’s increasingly large numbers of older people who need expensive support. It includes cash targeted at preventative and early intervention services to help people lead healthier lives and reduce overall future care costs.

After a period of public consultation following publication of the initial budget proposals, revised plans are due to be submitted to councillors. Other key changes include a further increase in savings identified of £1.1m, bringing the total savings found to help offset the major financial pressures for the coming year to £52.2m.

These pressures mean a further reduction of £25m next year on top of £214m already cut in the council’s core funding from government since 2010. Set alongside significant increases in demand for services, this means that in the coming financial year the council will have to reduce spending and increase income by £81.8m.

Councillors will be asked to approve a revenue budget of £492.7m, £13.5m of which will be raised by the proposed council tax rise of 1.99% and 3% adult social care precept.

Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council said:

“As a council we have invested a great deal of energy into tackling the enormous financial challenges over the past seven years by becoming more enterprising and forward-thinking while also delivering significant efficiencies.

“Demands on our services increase every year and further pressures such as tackling air quality, health inequalities and poverty grow ever more pressing. We are constantly reinventing how we work to protect frontline services and get the best possible outcomes for all communities, particularly those in greatest need.

“This year we have been lobbying particularly hard nationally with other local authorities to free up more funding for desperately-needed adult social care. In the meantime we have to accept reluctantly that the only way to help address the shortfall currently is to accept the government’s proposal for a council tax rise.

“However even these extra resources are only a temporary fix and don’t go anywhere near covering the burgeoning demand. We will continue to work with health care providers to ensure people in Leeds are being supported with the care they desperately need as we persist with putting pressure on at government level.”

To balance this year’s budget the council has continued its policy of consistently introducing efficiencies, managing staff reductions, reviewing its assets and introducing ways of raising income. Service and policy reviews and the search for efficiencies continue on a rolling basis.

This year a further 598 jobs will have to go, although opportunities for redeployment and recruitment to areas supporting adult social care, children and development will bring this down to a loss of 484 full-time posts.

This is not as many as the 800 originally predicted in December, but comes on top of the 2,500 council job cuts that have already saved £55m a year since 2010. The council will continue to work with unions to achieve these as far as possible without compulsory redundancies, using its voluntary leavers’ scheme and the redeployment of staff where appropriate.

The proposals will be sent to the council’s executive board on February 8 for their approval before being voted on by full council on February 22. The full budget report can be found here: Exec Board agenda Feb 8 2017

Social care: local council social care provides support when it is needed most for the most vulnerable people in society. It is there to care for the elderly and frail as well as disabled young people in their own homes or in specialised facilities. As people are living longer the demand for these support services increase.

Efficiency: Leeds City Council’s approach to efficiency is based on an organisational change programme which has delivered a variety of savings including:

• Staff reductions of 2,500 since 2010 without compulsory redundancy – saving £55m pa.

• £2.4m savings from changes in terms and conditions of staff;

• Over 50% reduction in agency staff since 2013;

• Over £35m of procurement savings since 2010/11;

• Asset review – getting the most from the assets we own and investing in new assets where it makes financial sense, saving over £4m since 2013/14;

• An annual saving in the cost of waste disposal of approximately £7m following the completion of the Recycling and Energy Recovery plant in 2015.

• Innovative use of the balance sheet to generate £35m savings in 2015/16; and

• More effective working with city partners to maximise the impact of the ‘Leeds Pound’, encouraging local money to be invested locally.

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