The Leader’s message about the proposals

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 Leader of the Council, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, explains her perspective on the update to the four-year plan: Bradford Council Executive’s Budget and Council Tax proposals for 2018/19 and 2019/20

Our district has now faced seven years of central government funding cuts as part of a national austerity programme which has seen services cut up and down the country. The government is cutting its revenue support grant to Bradford Council from £183 million in 2013/14 to zero by 2020.

As a council we have had to find cuts and savings of £256 million since 2010. We have worked hard to protect frontline services and avoid compulsory redundancies, but with each passing year of government cuts the situation is increasingly difficult with fewer places left to go.

Last year we published a four-year outline budget including two years of detailed proposals. Not all councils have published a four-year budget, but we felt it was prudent to plan ahead in this way especially in such unprecedented circumstances. It remains the right plan to ensure that vital local services are sustainable when the government pulls the plug on its revenue support grant in 2020.

Like any plan, we have to adjust it to stay on track as circumstances change. This year we’ve seen rising demand for services – especially social care – and rising costs, as inflation nationally has increased faster than predicted. Put simply, the money we have coming in won’t match the money we currently spend on our services.

We are no different to other areas of the country in the sense that social care in particular is creating huge pressures on council budgets. We are committed to looking after vulnerable people in the right way and we are continuing with the plan we set out last year to transform our adult social care services with a focus on preventative care and earlier interventions to help people stay independent and in their own homes for longer. However the continuing lack of government funding is making a difficult situation worse.

There is a rising demand from children and adults in need that we in Bradford will never ignore. We wrote to the Chancellor before his Autumn Budget on 22 November to set out our case, in particular calling on him to address the national concerns about funding for children’s and adults social care. But his Budget made no reference to social care.

So we have to find new savings while also adjusting some of the measures we announced last year. I understand how these are extremely difficult times for many people living in the district, for businesses, for our staff and for our partner organisations who all work hard to try and get by and improve our neighbourhoods. We will continue to prioritise protecting the most vulnerable and mitigating the impact of the government’s funding cuts to our district.

Despite the challenges, I remain absolutely confident we can all work together to change things for the better. Bradford is a city on the up with a pipeline of new developments still to come and in our district we have incredible assets which we are shouting about loud and clear to encourage investment from government and businesses.

This is more important than ever as the government withdraws its main funding. Councils are often associated with universal services such as bin collections and local highways works. However, the Council is also responsible for many important ‘hidden’ services you might only come across if you or a relative use the service, such as child protection, elderly care, paying for disabled children to get to school every day, to name just a few. The Council now spends almost half of its budget solely on caring for and safeguarding vulnerable adults and children.

I want to be honest about the challenges the district faces but I don’t want people to be overwhelmed. We are going for growth and we will continue to have a constructive working relationship with government, with health partners, with the voluntary sector, with businesses and residents to make sure we build a better Bradford District together.

Bradford is a big, powerful place. We are bigger than Liverpool, Newcastle and Bristol. We have the youngest population in the UK with nearly 25% of our population under the age of 16. We have strong global links with 85% of our businesses trading internationally. That puts us in a strong position for a post-Brexit world and we must capitalise on that strength.

These are challenging times, but our ambition remains as high as ever for this place and all of its people and communities. We have huge potential in Bradford, we have incredible, unique assets in our city, towns and villages across the district. Through our People Can campaign we want to empower local people and communities so they feel more involved in their local areas and can take on more responsibilities to contribute to the greater good in our great district. We have lots of excellent examples of this happening and it will continue particularly as the size and role of the council changes but its influence remains crucial.

In these budget proposals we are setting aside new funds to invest in growth in three key areas: housing and development; business growth; and income-generating assets. To stimulate housing, development and business growth we propose to invest in a new team which will help to deliver our Local Plan by clearing hurdles and getting developments over the line more quickly. We will also invest in assets, either tangible or financial, if there is a strong return which will bring in more income for the council in order to help fund services.

So we are going for growth and we want to support businesses locally to achieve the kind of growth we can all share in. Achieving a more inclusive growth than this country has seen in the past is going to be vitally important for a successful future. As a council we are also taking a lead through our new Social Value policy, which aims to maximise the Bradford Pound by working with more local companies and by promoting a high standard of corporate social responsibility to benefit the whole district.

The sluggish growth of the past few years has not made its way into most people’s pay packets. We believe that is wrong. We want to ensure that economic growth will benefit the many, not the few.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe

Leader, Bradford Metropolitan District Council

You can read more from the Executive: Executive Budget Proposals 18-19 December 2017 (PDF)

Next: Council budgets under pressure

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