Council budgets under pressure

Update

Since the Executive meeting on 5 December 2017, at which budget proposals for 2018-19 and 2019-20 were approved for consultation, the Government has announced that councils have been given the power to increase their core Council tax requirement next year by an additional 1%, on top of the existing 1.99%, without a local referendum. This is in addition to the existing extra 3% Council tax increase councils are allowed to charge next year to assist with paying for social care. This change would result in a total 5.99% rise in Council tax in Bradford District from April this year.

 

In 2013-14 the Government grant to the Council was £183 million. Government have indicated that the core grant to Bradford will be zero by 2020. The Government's funding announcement for local government in December 2017 included no additional funding for adult and children’s social care. The Executive is therefore inclined to factor this extra increase into the final budget proposals which will be recommended to Full Council on 22 February 2018. A proposal to add the extra 1% core Council tax precept is now part of the budget consultation which closes on 28 January.

Click here to have your say on proposed updated financial plan 2018-19 to 2020-21 and Council tax proposals

Or download the paper version (PDF)

The Council continues to operate in a very challenging financial environment. Budgets continue to shrink as Government funding for local authorities reduces, while demand for services, particularly for social care, increases each year and costs keep rising.

The Government has said that it will make more cuts to council funding and stop paying councils general grants for local services by 2020. In future the money will have to be found locally through Council tax, business rates, charges and income generation.

After taking account of such factors as taxation and inflation, it is estimated that a further £30.7 million of cuts will have to be found by 2020, on top of further increases in Council tax. This amounts to £7.1 million in 2018-19 and £23.6 million in 2019-20.

The money can only be found by cutting spending, increasing the Council’s income or increasing Council tax.

The Council has already made over £130 million of savings by improving efficiency, renegotiating contracts and cutting management and administration costs. This has helped to protect services; however, the scope for future savings is getting more limited, and is dwarfed by the scale of public spending cuts. We will continue to work to drive down costs but it is not possible to make further efficiency savings on the scale needed to balance the Council’s books.

The Council retains hugely important responsibilities relating to the care of vulnerable children and adults. Meeting the cost of these responsibilities inevitably limits the resources available for investment in other services and activities. This is something we highlighted to the Government in our ‘submission to the Autumn Budget 2017’, where we put forward our ambitions for growth, and explained how this is put under pressure by the demand and cost of social care.

About half of the Council’s net budget is currently spent on helping schools, families and young people and giving care and support to children, older and disabled people and people with mental health issues. Given the ongoing cuts it is inevitable that spending on these service areas will be affected.

Budget cuts alone are not the solution to the challenge we face. We must also unlock growth opportunities. Growth in the country at large is sluggish but here in Bradford we’re going for growth by making the right investments.

We need to grow our council tax base, grow our business rates base and make the money we do have work harder for us so that we can locally fund more public services for all when the revenue support grant is withdrawn.

The Council will also continue to collaborate with residents, businesses and partner organisations to find innovative approaches to service provision together. None of us has all the answers and there are choices to be made, but we all need to build greater self reliance in communities to help reduce demand for public services, as the Council becomes a smaller organisation and has fewer direct resources at its disposal.

The Council wants you to have your say on the Executive’s proposals for spending and local taxes and tell us what matters most to you, give us your ideas about what could change, how we could increase income and what part you and others could play in meeting the challenges that we face.

Next: Where the Council’s money comes from

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Council Switchboard : 01274 432111

Council Address : Britannia House, Hall Ings, Bradford BD1 1HX


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