Council tax to rise in Calderdale - but services will be cut

Calderdale Council's leader Tim Swift

Calderdale Council's leader Tim Swift

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A raft of proposals, including an increase in council tax, has been revealed to fight the “exceptional” budget challenges facing Calderdale Council.

The draft proposals, which were presented at a Cabinet meeting at Halifax Town Hall last night, cover the next three financial years to 2019/20.

Calderdale Council’s leader Tim Swift said: “We are again facing exceptional challenges to our budget over the next three years, having already been required to make savings of over £90 million since 2010.

“This year the Government has reduced our revenue support grant by a further £7.5 million.

“Despite this, through careful and responsible management, we have made sure that the council has maintained a position of financial stability at a time when the demand for our services is steadily rising.

“We will continue to provide those council services which are vital to our communities, protecting vulnerable children and adults, maintaining our highways network and making sure that our neighbourhoods are safe, clean and attractive places to live and work.

“However we now need to make some difficult decisions. We will have to ask local people to pay a bit more and we have to make some tough choices about some of the services we will provide in future as we now need to find an extra £12 million in savings each year by 2019/20.

“This is not easy to achieve, and I would urge all our residents and local businesses to read and comment on our proposals during the consultation period.”

The Cabinet will invest in and prioritise three key areas - growing the economy, reducing inequalities and creating a sustainable future.

The budget proposals include a 1.95 per cent rise in council tax rates in the three years to 2019/20. To help the council meet the increasing demand for high quality care for our older residents the Cabinet is also proposing to use the Social Care Precept to raise council tax bills by a further three per cent in both 2017-18 and 2018-19.

The Social Care Precept was introduced by the Government to help local authorities fund the continuing growth in demand for adult social care services as the population ages.

The Cabinet is proposing to invest £2m in Adults and Children’s Services next year to meet growing cost pressures.

Support will also continue for the Calder Valley following the unprecedented flooding in 2015, with extra resources being allocated to flood maintenance and planning. The Highways service, particularly drainage, will receive an extra £600k of funding, to provide the improvements needed to deliver a well maintained network. In total this will be an investment of £3.3m by 2019/20.

The Cabinet proposals also include plans to continue working with health partners to guarantee further funding for the Staying Well programme, which helps tackle loneliness and encourages people to stay active and independent.

To save money there will be some changes to council services including:

-Reducing the number of managers and other staff by merging teams and moving more services on-line

-Reducing the opening hours of some services including museums, libraries and waste centres

-Reducing some programmes from public health

-Changing the timing of some services - for example, the grass may be cut less frequently in some parks

-Reducing the funding of some of the services provided by voluntary sector

-Reducing some of the money the Council pays to Metro for bus and transport services

-Reducing spending on IT, staff training and other internal services

The budget proposals are available to view at www.calderdale.gov.uk.

People can have their say on the budget proposals by attending a drop in session at Halifax Town Hall on Thursday. February 2.

Book a place on the event at www.eventbrite.co.uk

You can also download a feedback form at www.calderdale.gov.uk and email it to budget@calderdale.gov.uk

Or complete the form at www.calderdale.gov.uk and post it (no stamp required) to:

Budget Consultation

FREEPOST

Licence number RTJK-SCKU-XGCL

Town Hall

Halifax HX1 1UJ

All responses will be considered before the final recommendations are made by Cabinet on Monday, February 13.

Final decisions will be taken at the Annual Budget Council meeting at 6pm on Monday, February 27 at Halifax Town Hall.

What do you think about the plans?