Senior councillors have unveiled their second ‘Budget for Recovery’ as Kirklees Council finalises its financial planning for the next twelve months. The Cabinet’s budget proposals include a £4 million injection into frontline environmental services, nearly £3 million extra financial support for residents hit by increases in their cost-of-living and funding to accelerate regeneration in towns across Kirklees.
The council’s ruling Cabinet will debate their budget plans next Tuesday (1 February). The final budget will be agreed at a meeting of all 69 Kirklees councillors on 16 February. In line with the government’s assumptions for all councils in England, the Cabinet’s proposals would mean a 2.99% increase in council tax from April, with 1% of the increase going directly into social care services through the government’s Adult Social Care Precept. The budget equates to an increase of 63p each week for residents living in a Band A property and 94p for a Band D home.
Kirklees Council’s Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, Cllr Paul Davies, said: “This budget gives a cash injection to frontline services that make a real difference to everyone’s quality of life. It will mean extra investment in tidying up towns and neighbourhoods, tackling fly-tipping and keeping our making our green spaces even safer and cleaner. It also provides the council with an additional £10 million for extra roads maintenance and repairs. We’ve talked to residents and they tell us that these are the kinds of services they want us to prioritise and that’s exactly what this budget will do. We’re listening and we’re taking action.
“As everyone’s cost of living increases, this budget will increase our financial support for Kirklees residents who need it most by expanding our local welfare provision. And in the absence of a long-term solution to social care funding, we will also make use of the government’s Adult Social Care precept, which accounts for a large proportion of the increase in council tax. Events of the past two years show that you simply can’t cut corners with services for the most vulnerable members of our community. These budget decisions mean that the budget addresses the most pressing and immediate needs of residents.
“But the budget is also about the long-term prosperity of everyone in Kirklees. Our investment programme is already one of the most ambitious that Kirklees has ever seen. Over the next 12 months, we’ll invest £4.9 million to accelerate that work. We need a transport and economic infrastructure that can give opportunities to everyone in this borough. This budget gives us the resources we need to deliver sustainable improvements in Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Batley, Cleckheaton, Heckmondwike, Holmfirth and beyond.
“Once again, the council faces immense challenges to balance the books. It’s no secret that Kirklees Council and its schools are under-funded when you compare us to other local authorities. And, as we continue to wait for a long-term solution to rising social care costs, there is added pressure on budgets for these services which are a lifeline for so many residents. That’s why this budget also delivers efficiency savings across the council. With the cost-of-living crisis set to affect us all, we have had to find a way of giving value to taxpayers while protecting and investing in services that residents really value. I strongly believe this budget achieves that aim and I look forward to presenting it to the Cabinet and to all councillors.”
Councillor Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council, said: “This Budget reflects the priorities of all residents and sets out how we will fund the delivery of real positive change to everyone.
“Through our public consultation, you told us you wanted to see us invest in the basic services that make Kirklees a cleaner and greener place and that’s exactly what we’ll do, with an extra £4 million available to support the tackling of fly-tipping and cleaning of streets in the coming year. You also overwhelmingly told us you wanted to see improved local roads so we’re investing an additional £10million to do just this.
“You’ll have heard about our ambitious regeneration plans for our town centres. Not just our flagship £210million Huddersfield Cultural Heart plans, but our transformation visions for all of our towns and villages. We’re committing an additional £4.9 million to speed this exciting work up.
“We’d like to go well beyond this level of investment, but the truth is that the economic challenges we face around people’s quality of life cannot be ignored. With solutions from the Government not being offered, we will need to look after our own through this budget, and that is why we will have to see an increase in our Council Tax by 2.99 per cent.
“One per cent of this increase is the Government’s Adult Social Care precept, because the long wait for a national solution to its funding continues. However, the long-term solution is a real concern. Funding adult social care in Kirklees comes at an annual cost of £108million which is 32 per cent of our overall budget. Something needs to change at a national level.
“Many residents also face a cost-of-living crisis this year, so we will step in with financial support for those who really need it. We will also continue our investment in transforming services for young people who are most at risk of being excluded. We’re a diverse borough and every community has its own unique challenges and we’re investing the money needed to tackle them in a more targeted away, working with local councillors in every ward to make sure no one is left behind.
“I’m proud of the budget we’ve produced despite the challenges we face. You would struggle to find a council hit harder by cuts in national funding than Kirklees. Through austerity, Kirklees Council lost in the region of 60p in the £1 of central government funding. This, combined with growing pressures on services, means since 2010 our annual budget has taken a hit of £200million. It’s only through careful and responsible budget management that we’re able to still offer a budget that invests in the issues that matter to local people and the infrastructure we need for our economy to continue to grow.”