Council forced to spend an extra £34m due to cost of living crisis

Kirklees Council says its latest financial monitoring report reveals increased costs in the current financial year of £34.3m, with the budget gap forecast to rise in future years.

The council has blamed “sky-rocketing” energy prices for adding the highest costs to its budget in recent months, with nearly £12m in extra funding needed to heat and light council buildings, schools and leisure centres.

Inflation in goods, services and pay have added a further £10m to budgets as a result of the national economic crisis.

The council says it is reacting by using its reserves, freezing staff recruitment, rationalising the number of buildings it uses and cutting expenses that aren’t critical to frontline services.

Leader of Kirklees Council, Councillor Shabir Pandor, said: “The cost-of-living crisis and the wider economic emergency have hit Kirklees residents hard. We are now seeing the impact on budgets for council services. It means we are facing significant pressures on our budgets.

“We’re taking immediate action to reduce our costs and bring the deficit down but it’s the Government announcements on public spending, expected over the next few weeks, which will be even more crucial. They will set the scene for the decisions we need to take on future budgets.

“Councils across the whole country are facing unprecedented pressure on budgets now and even more severe challenges in the years ahead.”

Cabinet member for corporate services, Councillor Paul Davies, added: “Frontline services for residents are our absolute priority and we are focusing our response on protecting them.

“That means using the council’s reserves to offset some of our increased costs as well as reducing staff recruitment and looking to rationalise the number of buildings we use for back-office services.

“It’s clear the economic crisis is going to affect the country beyond the course of the current financial year.

“That’s why the Government’s Autumn Statement on public service funding and its decisions on funding for councils are so important.

“They will set the backdrop to the decisions we need to take for the next few years. More than ever, Kirklees needs a fair deal from government that acknowledges the demands on services and the costs we face.”

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