“RESILIENT” seemed to be the budget buzzword as Leeds city council’s spending plan for the coming year was published last night (THursday, February 6).
The city’s net budget for the coming year – a combination of all its Government grants and income from local taxes – will be £564m. The overall coffers are £20.9m lighter than last year, a decrease of 3.6 per cent.
Leeds lost £36m of Government funding this year, and has seen £94m slashed over the past three years. Council leaders have already warned it’s going to be a “really tough year”.
The 500-page budget document – which will be rubberstamped by senior councillors next week – revealed more details of the authority’s spending and savings plan for 2014/15. It confirms, as expected, that council tax will go up by almost two per cent and council house rents will rise by almost six per cent.
The paper also reveals that Leeds’s contribution to the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority is to go up by 1.8 per cent to £34.036m, and is more than the other councils in the region because of the city’s faster population growth.
The headline figures for savings, meanwhile, include:
>£2.2m saved from a restructure of adult social care, which has included the closure of four OAP care homes and residents being relocated to more cost-effective independently-run homes. However, £1m will be set aside to help smooth the effects of the change.
>£1.2m from the further roll out of fortnightly black bin collections and increasing recycling rates.
>£5.4m saved on council running costs, by adopting a “refreshed procurement policy”,
>£5.5m saved by becoming “an efficient and enterprising council”.
The budget report says further work on the draft budget, and a decreased reliance on reserve funding, has made the council’s financial position “more resilient”.
However acknowledging that many ordinary people will be stung by the spending plan, the report says: “It is recognised that some actions contained in the proposed budget may impact on particular communities and where relevant, appropriate consultation and the consideration of mitigating actions will continue.”