The Council's Executive's initial 2013-14 Budget proposals
Bradford Council started its initial budget consultation in August 2012. At that time we outlined the context for the budget setting for 2013-14 and the challenges we faced as an organisation. We asked for your views on our spending priorities for the future.
Information was posted on our website and in our libraries and a number of focus groups were held to gather your views. This consultation is ongoing and your feedback is continuing to play an important part in developing the Council’s budget proposals for 2013-14.
The Council’s Executive committee met in December 2012 to agree its initial proposals on how money could be allocated in 2013-14.
The budget was set by Full Council on Thursday, 28 February, 2013.
Changes since the consultation started
The Council previously expected the budget reductions for 2013-14 to be £13.4 million and this figure formed the basis of our original consultation.
However, since the consultation began there have been indications from the Government that changes may be made which could potentially add an estimated £10 million to that figure.
These changes include:
- a proposed reduction of £6.7 million in the Early Intervention Grant used to fund Children’s Centres and Early Years services
- the Government’s intention to hold back £350 million which would normally be distributed to local authorities, to create a contingency fund to protect councils that experience initial deficits as a result of the new scheme for business rates and to spread redundancy costs over a number of years
- changes to the rules on Council tax.
The Council also faces financial pressures because of the increasing demand for services, due largely to demographic change.
The precise levels of funding that the Council will receive from the Government remain uncertain and we are not expecting an announcement until 19 December 2012.
Public Health will transfer to the Council in April 2013. The budget proposals assume that the Council will receive the same amount of money that was previously spent by the Primary Care Trust, however we are not expecting a Public Health funding announcement from the Government until January 2013.
We expect the potential funding gap in the next financial year, 2013-14, to be around £30 million with potential funding gaps in the future of £20 million in 2014-15 and £15 million in 2015-16.
The Council has made savings of over £72 million and has reduced its workforce by 1,400 posts over the last two financial years.
We will continue to do all that we can to make savings through efficiency, innovation and working with our partners, but it isn’t possible to absorb such significant annual budget reductions through efficiency savings and annual incremental reductions in service budgets alone.
It is inevitable that there will be an impact on the scope and scale of front-line services and the number of people the Council employs because the reductions in public funding are not sustainable without making alterations to the services provided and commissioned.
Decisions will have to be made about what services to do less of; which services to do differently; which services to charge, or charge more for; and which services to stop.
These proposals are subject to change as the consultation continues.
Outline of key proposals
- It is proposed that Council tax is increased by 2% in 2013-14. This is likely to be the maximum allowed by Government, unless a referendum is held with local people which would incur additional costs.
- Departmental savings of £16.9 million are proposed, as are cross-cutting savings of £4 million. £3 million of the initial budget proposals relate to proposed staffing reductions.
- Further measures to help close the potential £30 million funding gap include proposals to remove Council tax discounts on second homes, proposals to reduce the exemption period for empty homes and proposals to pass on the 10% reduction in government funding to people of working age who are eligible to receive support with their Council tax.
- It is proposed that much of the reduction in Early Intervention Grant be absorbed by making savings in other Council services, because children’s centres and early years are priority services. The Council will approach the Schools Forum to explore options for dealing with the remaining shortfall.
- Demographic pressures on Adult and Community Services are recognised through a proposed additional investment of £1.735 million.
- Ongoing investment of £1.4 million is proposed including: £800,000 to meet the funding shortfall for Mental Health Fees, £50,000 to help support local business, £50,000 to provide an extra waste collection round and £330,000 to address pressures in Revenues and Benefits arising from Welfare reform and national changes to Council tax rules and collection.
- It is proposed that £9.2 million of Council reserves are used to support investment including £300,000 to support the ongoing delivery of the Empty Homes programme and a potential £4.1 million contribution to accelerate City Region economic growth and job creation, that will directly benefit Bradford district.
This proposed use of reserves will leave the Council with sufficient reserves to meet liabilities and risks over the medium term, support any transitional costs and insure against unforeseen events.
To ensure that the decisions we take are as fair and transparent as possible and to make sure that we comply with the Equality Act 2010, the budget proposals are subjected to a systematic process of Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) as required.