Leeds City Council to consider cutting 750 jobs, selling assets and closing buildings amid £29.6m overspend

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Leeds City Council will consider making up to 750 job cuts as it faces significant financial pressures.

The local authority will also consider selling off assets including the Civic Hall and various car parks and closing buildings as it deals with the “crisis in local government finance” at a meeting next Wednesday (October 18).

The council says it is facing extra in-year pressures leading to an overspend of £29.6million for the current financial year.

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A spokesperson said: “This reflects issues being felt nationally as a result of rising costs and demand for services, especially for looked after children, those with special care and education needs as well as for adult social care, together with an unfunded nationally-agreed pay increase for council staff.”

Leeds City Council is facing significant financial pressures. Photo: James HardistyLeeds City Council is facing significant financial pressures. Photo: James Hardisty
Leeds City Council is facing significant financial pressures. Photo: James Hardisty

All services have put forward proposals to deliver those savings, but the need for further savings continues on for the next three years with an estimated funding gap of £162.8m up to the end of March 2027, with £59.2m of that relating to the next financial year for 2024/25.

The council says that “significant measures” are required and that it will now consult with trade unions to avoid, reduce and mitigate the potential risk and consequences of compulsory redundancies with the council needing to reduce its workforce by up to 750 full-time equivalent posts by the end of the 2024/25 financial year.

It says this will be carried out through natural staff turnover, retirements and voluntary leavers schemes and that compulsory redundancies will be a “last resort”.

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Four buildings are also being earmarked for potential closure by the end of the year due to low occupancy levels and increased maintenance costs. These are at Adams Court, 15 Lavender Walk, Broomhill Family Centre and Foxcroft Close. As a result of these proposed closures, staff impacted and the services they provide would be relocated.

The council is also considering selling four assets it owns that are leased out to operators that it says would generate “substantial funds”. These are Swinegate Car Park, Harper Street Car Park, St George House and 2180 Century Way at Thorpe Park.

The council says it will also continue to carry out service and asset reviews along with freezes on recruitment and non-essential spending except where necessary for health and safety or statutory reasons.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor James Lewis said that the council wanted to be “up front and clear with everyone about the scale of the challenge we and councils all over the country are facing”.

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He said: “After responding to austerity for the last 13 years we have now reached the stage where we need to look at every option no matter how unpalatable, which sadly includes the possibility of compulsory redundancies as well as building closures, asset sales and stopping or reducing some council services which will no doubt have an impact.

“All areas of the council are doing everything possible to mitigate that impact with a focus on continuing to provide frontline and essential services that people rely on in every community and support our most vulnerable residents, but it’s clear as with councils all over the country we cannot meet these financial challenges alone. The government needs to address this crisis in local government finance as a matter of urgency now.”