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'Challenging 12 months ahead, Bradford Council leaders warn
8:02pm Friday 13th June 2014 in News
Budget cuts and mounting pressure on services mean Bradford Council is facing a "particularly challenging" 12 months ahead, according to a committee chairman.
Safeguarding children, helping the poor in times of crisis and managing cuts to its own budgets are just some of the big challenges the authority has flagged up for the coming year.
Councillor Lynne Smith, chairman of the Governance and Audit Committee, on the Labour-run authority has now voiced her fears about how the authority will cope.
She said: "You can't take the amount of money out of your budget that we have been forced to do without the risks getting greater. It's as simple as that."
Cllr Smith said she would be in close contact with the Council's scrutiny committees to flag up any problems as they arose.
She said: "It's not Governance's job to scrutinise, but it is our job to make sure that things are picked up."
The leader of the Council, Councillor David Green, added: "There are serious concerns about the financial viability of the Council over the next few years."
He said the General Election in 11 months' time added another level of uncertainty, but said he was confident they had the structures in place to meet the challenges ahead.
But the leader of the Conservatives, Councillor Glen Miller, said: "It would appear that Labour will continue to knock the Government at every chance and in every report, blaming the Government for cuts, cuts, cuts, when in fact it is their own leadership and lack of forward thinking that brings the district to where it is."
Each year, the Council publishes an Annual Governance Statement, which reviews its own effectiveness and flags up "known areas of concern".
In this year's draft report, areas of concern include making sure children are kept safe from harm, as the workload of social workers continues to rise. The report says the tragic death of tot Hamzah Khan triggered a full inspection of the Council's safeguarding services, and in its wake the number of referrals to social services rose by a massive 40 per cent, putting "significant pressure" on their workloads.
Ongoing budget cuts are also expected to cause problems at City Hall, as is the Government's axeing of money for the Social Fund, which enables the Council to give emergency cash grants or household goods for families in crisis. The Council is now developing options for a replacement crisis loan scheme.
The draft report will go before the Governance and Audit Committee on Friday, June 20.
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