City council looking to make £65.4m worth of savings

Leeds City Council has today put forward its annual budget proposals to achieve the estimated £65.4m it needs to save in the next financial year.

The 2022/23 budget proposals, to be discussed by the council’s executive board next Wednesday at Civic Hall before being consulted on over the coming weeks, include a proposed council tax increase of 1.99% for core council tax and one per cent which the Government requires be dedicated for adult social care funding.

In terms of staffing levels, the 2022/23 budget proposals contain a loss of 26 full-time equivalent (FTE jobs), but also include 148 new FTE posts in services including climate change, social care and environmental services.

Overall, the council has reduced in size by 2,875 FTE posts between 2011 and the end of this financial year.

In order to submit a balanced budget to full council for approval in February, the council has been required to address an estimated £65.4m budget gap.

It says all areas of the council continue to look for efficiencies and new ways of working in order to deliver services as effectively as possible in the face of the ongoing financial challenge.

After taking account of these previously identified changes as well additional funding, joint investment through working with partners and the use of reserves, £20.8m savings remained for the target to be achieved.

Additional efficiencies and service reviews put forward for consideration in September and this month if approved and realised would deliver the total required level of savings.

Over 60% of the budget continues to be allocated to health, adults and children’s social care.

The council emphasises its proposed annual budget for the forthcoming financial year 2022/23 needs to be seen in the context of the financial challenge it has faced since 2010.

Since then its annual core settlement funding from the Government has reduced by £263m (or 60%), and it also follows on from the requirement to deliver £56.1m of savings in the current financial year.

Further savings are also expected to be needed in 2023/24 and 2024/25.

The figures in the budget proposals will be finalised following the Government’s local government settlement, which is expected later this month.

Councillor James Lewis

Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor James Lewis, said: “As the figures clearly show, we are facing another very challenging year ahead in Leeds, especially with the increasing pressure on local residents through council tax needing to be stretched to cover more services, especially those in adult social care where we have significant demand.

“As a city, Leeds and its residents continue to show remarkable resilience in adapting to the changes in all our lives caused by Covid-19, and we continue to be especially grateful for all our frontline and key workers, especially those in health roles in keeping us safe.

“I am confident we can continue to rise to the challenge through working together, continuing to be ambitious, and showing compassion especially for our most vulnerable residents in the months ahead.”

Following the discussion of the budget at the executive board meeting next week, the proposals will go out to consultation via a four-week online survey, as well as stakeholder engagement including with councillors, unions, business representatives and third sector groups.

Final budget proposals will then be presented to the executive board in February before being debated and voted on at that month’s full council meeting.