Kirklees Council has revealed more detail on how it plans to deliver a balanced budget for the 2024-25 financial year and stave off the threat of bankruptcy.
The council has published its draft budget to make savings of £47 million and some new detail is disclosed in papers which will go to Cabinet next week.
As expected, council tax will rise by the maximum 4.99% and most other fees and charges will rise too.
The council will raise existing on and off-street car parking charges across the district from February 19 with charges to be imposed on previously free car parks some time after that.
The council has decided to raise all fees and charges by at least the rate of inflation and that includes everything from residents’ parking permits to allotment rents.
The council has previously warned that up to 250 jobs could be lost but it’s still not clear how may staff will go.
The documents show that many vacant roles will be scrapped and jobs will be lost as a result of cuts and re-structuring.
Here’s some of what is revealed in the draft budget:
- The cost of school meals will rise – but it doesn’t say by how much;
- One of the council’s two register offices – one in Huddersfield and the other at Dewsbury Town Hall – will close;
- Street cleaning will be cut back with smaller towns and villages only being cleaned once a month. Road sweepers will do two routes instead of one;
- Maintenance of the fountain in St George’s Square will be stopped;
- Bereavement fees will be increased in line with inflation;
- Fees at museums and galleries will be reviewed;
- The operation of the Greenhead Park Conservatory Café will be reviewed;
- Bedding plants won’t be planted outside town centres or “principal parks”;
- Opening hours at council waste tips will be reviewed;
- The council has saved money on business rates by appealing against the rateable values of Tolson Museum at Moldgreen, Red House Museum at Gomersal, Dewsbury Museum and Oakwell Hall at Birstall. Red House and Dewsbury museums have both shut down.
The draft budget will go to Cabinet on Tuesday February 13 and must be approved by full council on March 6.
The budget proposals mean the council will spend £258 million on care services for adults in 2024-25. Spending on social care services for children will rise to £69 million.
The council’s plans also include £1.4 billion investment into the Kirklees economy over the next five years through its capital plan.
To balance the council’s books, the budget proposals include £34.5 million in savings over the next financial year.
Council leader Clr Cathy Scott said: “Councils across the country are setting their budgets in some of the most difficult circumstances in living memory.
“We’ve had to take painful decisions to give the council financial stability. But, at the same time, we’ve tried to stay true to our values.
“That means focusing our resources on the people who need our support most. It also means modernising and transforming services to make them as efficient as we can.
“And it means continuing to invest in our future, to bring jobs and opportunities to families and communities in every part of Kirklees.”
Clr Graham Turner, Cabinet member for finance and regeneration, said: “All our services, from safeguarding children to emptying bins, rely on stable funding. That’s why it’s been so important to deliver a balanced budget for residents. The alternative to a balanced budget would be worse for residents, local services and hard-working council staff.
“Since the cost-of-living crisis first hit, we’ve been reducing our costs relentlessly. We’ve frozen all but the most essential recruitment and spending. We’ve reviewed our investment programme and our use of buildings.
“But the challenges for all councils are bigger than that. That’s why we set out a long-term plan in the autumn that would reduce spending to match the pressures we face. This budget achieves that fundamental responsibility.
“Local government lives from hand to mouth, despite it delivering the services that we all rely on from looking after vulnerable children to providing adult social care, waste disposal and maintaining roads.
“Relying on funding from government for one year at a time makes it difficult to plan for the long term and deal with growing demand for services.
“We need a fair funding settlement that is for several years so that we can plan ahead and not be constantly budgeting for a single year.”