Brighouse, Calderdale, Halifax, Illingworth, Skircoat Green

Calderdale Council faces further budget pressures

Calderdale Council today officially responded to the Government’s latest financial policy statements. Combining a below-inflation increase, and a rise in need across almost all services doesn’t make pretty reading. Here’s the reply in full:

Calderdale Council has responded to the local government finance policy statement published on 5 December 2023, warning that its budgets are under unprecedented pressure meaning further difficult decisions will need to be made.

The local government finance policy statement 2024 to 2025 sets out the government’s intentions for the Local Government Finance Settlement for 2024 to 2025.

The policy statement gives an indication of what councils can expect from the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement, which is set to be published later this month. Following consultation, allocations are confirmed in the final settlement, usually in February.

The settlement informs the budget proposals that will be considered by Calderdale Council’s Cabinet in January 2024. The publication of the Council’s Medium-Term Financial Plan in November 2023 is a key milestone in the budget process, providing a forecast of the Council’s financial position.

A survey by the Local Government Association found that almost one in five council leaders and chief executives in England think it is very or fairly likely that their chief finance officer will need to issue a Section 114 Notice (meaning they are unable to set a balanced budget) this year or next, due to a lack of funding to keep key services running.

Calderdale Council is not at imminent risk of being in this situation. However, its responsibilities have increased, with higher demand for services, especially in children’s and adults’ social care. The Council has lost around a third of its workforce since 2010, will be able to do less and will be a smaller organisation in the future. 

Cllr Jane Scullion, Leader of Calderdale Council, said:

“Whilst we welcome any guarantee of a minimum increase to our core spending power, the 3% announced in the local government finance policy statement is below inflation levels impacting the Council, and doesn’t take into account rising demand for complex, specialist services such as children’s placements. 

“In Calderdale, over £110 million of budget savings, which we’ve had to make over the past decade, have an impact on what we do every day. Like other councils, we know that more challenges and difficult decisions lie ahead.

“We are operating in the most difficult financial situation that we have ever seen in local government. The proportion of our budget for children’s and adults’ services has increased to 70% of all we spend, and we have been given additional statutory responsibilities. Since the pandemic, the number of children with complex needs requiring additional support has quadrupled, and the number of families living in temporary accommodation has doubled.

“Fortunately, we have a strong foundation of creativity, talent and innovation, strong links with the voluntary sector, and resilience to adapt to ensure a balanced budget and a sustainable future. Our recent Local Government Association Corporate Peer Challenge praised our ambition, strong leadership, sound financial position and wise choices during austerity.

“Using these strengths, we continue to provide and commission services for our borough which impact on everyone’s lives every day. Across our towns, we continue to deliver our largest capital programme of regeneration since we became a local authority, strive to reduce inequalities and are responding to the climate emergency given its impact on Calderdale.”

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