Leeds council reveals £28M of cuts for coming year

Leeds City Council has announced it may have to cut its budgets by £28.4m in the coming year – £5m more than it had originally anticipated.

By Richard Beecham
Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 5:58 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 3:45 pm

According to a draft 2020/21 budget, proposed back in December, the authority had expected it would need to make £23.24m worth of savings, in addition to a 3.99 per cent increase in council tax rates.

However, following a consultation period, a document set to go before council decision makers has revealed finances will be under even further pressure, due to a series of higher-than-expected costs to the authority.

While changes to the original proposals include an extra £2.7m grant to compensate for higher rates relief, areas such as increased homelessness, families and insurance reserve spending have helped contribute to a £5m swell in estimated costs.

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The meeting is set to take place in Civic Hall.

A report, set to go before the authority’s executive board next week, states: “Since the initial budget proposals were received at executive board in January 2020 there have been a number of changes to the 2020/21 budget submission which now reflects the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement and other variations that have emerged.”

The initial proposals, published in December 2019 and agreed by the executive board the following month, identified that more than £10m of the savings would have come from its Adults and Health budget, while the communities and environment; and city development budgets would have seen cuts of £4.78 million and £3.11 million respectively.

The revised figures show cuts of £13.61m in Adults and Health, £4.79m in Communities and Environment and £3.18m in City Development.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said: “More tough choices with further significant savings needing to be made. Our approach remains unchanged, with a commitment to protecting front-line services and investing in support for our communities and especially our most vulnerable young people, families and adults.

Details of where the cuts are set to come from.

“Despite these ongoing challenges, we will keep doing everything we can to tackle poverty and inequality, as well as promoting opportunities for all as a compassionate city with a strong economy. We will also continue to work alongside our partners to lobby government for the resources we need and for clear decisions over future funding beyond this year.

“Tackling the climate emergency is a significant priority for us and needs to run through everything the council does as we strive to make Leeds a carbon-neutral city.”

Members of the executive board are expected to vote on the budget before it goes before a full Leeds City Council meeting at the end of the month.

A section of the council report listed increased costs, which have led to changes to the initial proposals.

It claims changes to the government’s funding settlement is £100,000 lower than the figure in the initial proposals.

It added that the contribution of business rates to the revenue charge is down £900,000 from where it was expected, due to an increase in rates relief. However, it added a grant of £2.7m from government would cover this.

It added an increase in the business rates levy of £200,000, as well as an extra contribution of £2.2m to the authority’s insurance reserve.

And, despite an additional increase of £1.1 of section 278 income (money charged from developers to improve roads), the level of homelessness reduction grant will increase by £300,000.

It also made allowances for an increase in additional rough sleepers and rapid rehousing funding of £350,000, while the children and families directorate will receive £1.6m of additional strengthening families grant in 2020/21.

More information on the revised proposals can be found in the following link: https://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/documents/s199588/Revenue%20Budget%20Cover%20Report%20Appendices%20V2%20030220.pdf