Job cuts and buildings closures planned as council bids to save a further £58.4m
Leeds City Council aims to slash its staffing levels by up to 750 full-time equivalent posts by the end of the 2024/25 financial year, to try and balance its books.
It has now published its initial budget proposals for 2024/25 which will be discussed by senior councillors at an executive board meeting on 13 December.
The proposals identify ways to save a further £58.4m in the year ahead, alongside £7.4m of already agreed savings to deliver the required balanced budget.
Also on the cards are plans to close and sell off loss-making Pudsey Civic Hall, the closure of Knowle Manor Care Home in Morley, termination of the council’s lease at Thwaite Watermill Museum, reduced opening hours at community hubs and libraries, and a 4.99% increase in council tax.
The council is grappling with an overspend of £35.3m for the current financial year, while it expects to have to save a further £60.6m in 2025/26 and £46.1m in 2026/27.
As previously reported, the council has already implemented a freeze on recruitment, as well as on non-essential spending except where necessary for health and safety or statutory reasons.
Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor James Lewis, said: “We know some of the proposals we have set out today will be unpopular as they will have a challenging impact on people’s lives.
“As is increasingly being seen around the country, councils have only very difficult choices left to use to balance their budgets, meet the needs of residents and not risk being driven to the point of financial distress.
“Local government cannot continue in this way, it simply isn’t workable.
“In the immediate short-term, we call on the Government to use the upcoming finance settlement to provide the urgent help all councils clearly need, especially in the face of the rising costs and demand in children’s services to help support and protect our most vulnerable children and young people.”
The council explains its situation reflects the impact of funding reductions, cost increases and demand pressures for its services since 2010.
It notes that between 2010 and the end of 2024/25, it will have had to deliver savings totalling £795m.
In 2013, the Revenue Support Grant from the Government accounted for 35.6% of the council’s annual budget, with 39.9% coming from council tax and 24.4% from business rates.
But for next year the Revenue Support Grant is expected to be just 5.5% of Leeds City Council’s annual budget, with council tax funding 68% and business rates 26.5%.