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Taxpayers face 1.99% rise for Council services
A package aimed at slashing £27 million from Bradford Council’s budget has been unveiled by the authority’s ruling Labour group.
The proposed savings are about £3m less than had orginally been proposed but still require a 1.99 per cent increase in Council Tax.
Full details of a £130.8m capital investment plan were also expected to be unveiled today at a meeting of the executive, where the leaders of opposition parties on the Council are also expected to outline their alternative budget proposals.
The changes follow consultation with taxpayers and reflect some of the key issues raised.
But Labour’s final proposals still include departmental savings, this time of £16.3m, which is expected to lead to the loss of 86 jobs at the authority.
This is down from the original 136 jobs which were expected to be lost amid the cuts, and is due to vacancies and voluntary redundancies.
In the last two years £72m has been stripped out of the Council’s operating budget, with a further budget deficit of £83m predicted over the next three years.
Council leader David Green said: “We are working hard to protect priority services. But the harsh reality is that it is impossible to achieve reductions on the scale required by Government without having to make very difficult choices about the services the Council provides, how it provides them, what it reduces, what it charges for and what it stops.
“The Council is confronted with some very tough decisions and there will be more to come, but we are mindful of the need to invest in the long term future of the district, to attract business and protect jobs, education and support our young people, delivery good local services to keep neighbourhood safe and clean, and to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens get the help that they need when they need it.”
In proposing the first Council Tax increase in three years, Coun Green added that balancing the budget had been made event more difficult because of late Government announcements, unexpected cuts to grants and last minute changes to the rules.
He cited the withdrawal of £62m of financial credits which would have helped fund a £300m 25-year waste deal across Bradford and Calderdale, announced late last week, which necessitated some additional changes to the budget proposals for 2013/14.
Key changes outlined in the final budget proposals include delaying the move from a seven-day-a-week mechanical street cleansing operation to five days to allow staff to be redeployed as extra recycling services are introduced.
It also includes keeping two household waste sites – a replacement for Bowling Back Lane, and a further waste site at Sugden End in Keighley – and maintaining the same level of ward officers in each neighbourhood area.
New additions also include a boost to the district’s economy, skills and employment, through £1.25m for advanced skills training and support and £250,000 to provide improved opportunities for young entrepreneurs, as well as the creation of a £200,000 sponsorship fund for events and activities that attract visitors and promote the district.
Furthermore, £40,000 of funding would be found to deliver a City Run in Bradford and £130,000 towards events associated with the Tour de France coming through the district in 2014.
Extra money would also be earmarked for highways and footpath maintenance and to promote improved road safety, as well an investments to be made in existing allotments in the district.
Coun Green said a £2.1m contribution from the Schools Forum to help Early Years Services deal with Government cuts to the Early Intervention Grant would be accepted. This follows proposals that much of the reduction of £7.5m in the Early Intervention Grant used to fund children’s centres and early years be absorbed by making savings in other services.
A final decision will be taken on the budget at a special meeting of the Council on Thursday.