Leeds council tax set to rise and dozens of jobs could face axe

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Council tax is set to rise by nearly four per cent and dozens of jobs face the axe, plans for Leeds City Council’s 2019-20 budget have revealed.

A total of 74 full-time jobs at the local authority could be slashed within the next two years, as the cash-strapped council aims to make more than £24m worth of savings.

Coun Judith Blake, leader of the council, blamed continuing cuts from central Government funding and rising pressures within the adult social care sector for the “challenging year” it now faces.

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Measures proposed in the plans for next year’s budget, published today (Dec 11), also feature doubling the council tax premium on properties unoccupied for more than two years - from 50 to 100 per cent.

The council forecasts that its overall costs will increase by £43.7m next year, including a rise of £12m in pay and a further £2.2m spent on servicing its own debts.

Details on the budget were revealed in a new report, which will be discussed by decision-makers at the council’s Executive Board meeting next Wednesday. Coun Blake said raising council tax was “never a decision we take lightly”, but cuts meant it made an important contribution towards frontline services.

The documents propose a 2.99 per cent rise in council tax, along with an additional one per cent adult social care precept.

Coun Blake said: “We are facing another very difficult and challenging year ahead with our government funding being cut again and rising costs meaning we the need to make further significant savings.

“As an authority we will continue our policy of exploring all options and working with all our partners and our communities to not only protect front-line services and our most vulnerable residents, but also to do everything we can to tackle poverty and inequality in our city.

“Raising council tax is never a decision we take lightly, but due to the funding cuts it helps make an increasingly important contribution and is being stretched more and more each year to pay for front-line services. And with people living longer, we need the additional adult social care element to help provide people with the support and services they need.”

After being discussed by the Executive Board next week, the budget proposals will go out to a public consultation for residents to have their say.

The final budget plans for 2019-20 will then return to the Executive Board in February, before being debated and voted on at the Full Council meeting at Civic Hall on February 27 next year.