‘Painful’ Leeds City Council budget to bring even more cuts

Coun Keith Wakefield at the announcement of budget cuts.
Coun Keith Wakefield at the announcement of budget cuts.
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Leeds will have to save almost £55m in the coming year in what the council has described as the most “painful” budget in recent times.

Civic hall bosses have today revealed eight residential homes and four adult day centres could close, a grant for school uniforms could be scrapped and nursery fees may rise as they try to slash the city’s running costs in 2013/14.

More than 300 public service jobs will also be shed - taking the total of redundancies to 2,000 since 2010. Previous estimates had suggested £51m of further savings were needed.

Council leader, Coun Keith Wakefield, said “painful decisions” had to be made in order to “protect front line services”, in particular those relating to the vulnerable, young and elderly. He blamed the government for handing Leeds the worst settlement of all the core cities except one.

Coun Wakefield said: “We all know in the last two years we have had to find £145m in savings and this year we thought we would have to find £10m to £15m because we were going to see a 0.8 per cent cut [in government grants].

“What we have actually found by slight of hand, smoke and mirrors, is that our grant cut has meant we have had to find £55m. That makes it one of the worst settlements in the country – except for Bristol, the worst settlement out of the core cities. It’s still very much the northern cities taking the hit.”

Councillors will discuss the budget at an executive board meeting next Friday, before it is ratified at full council on February 27. Hikes could include:

* Council house rents, garage rents and service charges by 5.9 per cent;

* Children’s nursery fees by £2 per day;

* Sport charges by approximately 4 per cent;

* Bereavement charges by 7.5 per cent, although hardship grants will be available.

A review of car parking, with plans to charge motorists up until 8pm, is already under way, and residents are likely to see car parking permits increased. Charges may be applied to free adult social care services and free annual city events, such as Party in the Park.

Some free home-to-school/college travel could be scrapped from September, which would save £2.8m

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