Council to use ‘unprecedented level of reserves’ to balance its books

Bradford Council says it will be forced to use an “unprecedented” £28.4m from its reserves to set a balanced budget for 2023/24, and warns this situation cannot be sustained beyond the short-term.

The council said its finances were already under pressure as a result of austerity, rising demand and increasing costs.

Its spokesman added: “Since 2011, Bradford Council has had to deliver £310m of budget reductions and raise council tax to balance the books.

“This has required difficult decisions to be taken but robust financial management meant that immediately prior to the pandemic, council finances had achieved greater stability than at any point over the previous decade.

“It is proposed that council tax is increased by 2.99% and an Adult Social Care precept increase of 2% is levied in line with the parameters set in the Chancellor’s recent Autumn Statement.

“The most that can be raised through council tax in Bradford under the current threshold is £11m a year which is dwarfed by the scale of the challenges faced.”

The council said it wants Government to provide certainty and stability in council funding, highlighting that urgent action is needed to tackle pressure on adults and children’s social care.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council, said: “Times are incredibly difficult for the residents of our district and this proposed budget will continue to deliver vital services and also invest in services that are needed by our most vulnerable.

“It’s wrong for the Government to ask us to raise council tax to cover the gap in funding they have left councils with.

“We know this places an additional burden on local taxpayers in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis in order to address what essentially are national issues.

“Resources set aside to invest in the district’s future must now be deployed to fill significant budget gaps arising from largely external factors beyond the council’s control.

“Given Government cuts to local authorities over the last 12 years we’re having to continually seek to deliver more savings and to look at new ways to transform services.”

The proposed financial plan and budget proposals for 2023/24 will go before Bradford Council’s Executive on 14 December.

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