Leeds: Council tax and rents both go up as 2014/15 budget is unveiled

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“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.”

Rachel Reeves, Leeds West MP and former junior chess champion, during her visit toWhingate Primary School with Grand Master Malcolm Pein, Chief Executive of CSC, to support of Chess in Schools and Communities.
Picture shows Malcolm Pein and Rachel Reeves taking part in a simul against 16 children.
Rachel will joined children of the school in a chess lesson and give a simultaneous exhibition, playing the best players from the school.
 Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC) is a UK charity whose mission is to improve childrens educational outcomes and social development by introducing them to the game of chess.
16 November 2017.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Founded in 2009, CSC now teaches in over 300 schools and supports 500 more nationwide including 13 in Leeds, teaching around 1000 children each week how to play the game in classroom lessons and after-school clubs.

Chess ace Leeds MP drops into school for eight games at once