Bradford Council finance chief warns that authority should aim to keep up to £15m in bank

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Councillor David Green Councillor David Green

After days of criticism that its cash reserves are too large, Bradford Council has now been warned they could very soon become too small.

And the Council’s finance chief has urged it to start planning more cuts this year to balance the books.

The authority has about £100 million of reserves, with about £30m of this not yet allocated for a specific purpose.

But fast-forward to three years’ time and it could be a very different story, its finance chief has warned.

The authority is planning to spend about £638,000 of unallocated reserves in 2014/15, £15.1m in 2015/16 and a further £7.76m in 2016-17, which would leave less than £7m in the bank.

In a report to the Council’s Executive, director of finance Stuart McKinnon-Evans said this level would be “inadequate” and the authority should aim to keep around £12m to £15m in the bank.

He warned a general reserve of about £7m represented just 1.9 per cent of the Council’s overall spend of £372m “in what will remain a highly turbulent environment, given the continuing difficult outlook for public finances”.

Mr McKinnon-Evans said it was “imperative” that the Council came up with further cuts to make sure its income matched its outgoings that year.

And he warned that because cuts took so long to come into force, they should start planning and consulting on these cuts this year.

Councillor David Green (Lab, Wibsey), leader of the Council, said: “He needs to be convinced in accountancy terms that the Council is going to be financially sustainable down the line.”

He said it highlighted the wider issue of what the Council would look like in years to come.

He said: “A £115m cut in three years is not going to be good for services and it’s not going to be good for the district.

“The reality is, it calls into question not just in Bradford but across the country the sustainability of local government in its current form.”

Coun Glen Miller, leader of the Conservative group, likened the Council’s projected budgets to an “out-of-control rollercoaster ride”.

He said they had only just been told that Labour were nearly doubling the unallocated reserves, from £17m to £30m, and now a report said in three years’ time the reserves would have fallen to “half of what is needed for the Council to be financially resilient”.

He said: “Overall it feels as if our political masters are haplessly riding the rollercoaster rather than carefully driving it, which worries me.”

Comments (8)

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6:41am Fri 14 Feb 14

Joedavid says...

If they run out the Council will just ask you and me for more money, bet they got the power for that.
If they run out the Council will just ask you and me for more money, bet they got the power for that. Joedavid
  • Score: 1

7:21am Fri 14 Feb 14

Albion. says...

Joedavid wrote:
If they run out the Council will just ask you and me for more money, bet they got the power for that.
They have, but don't they lose funding from central government if they raise it by more than 2%?
[quote][p][bold]Joedavid[/bold] wrote: If they run out the Council will just ask you and me for more money, bet they got the power for that.[/p][/quote]They have, but don't they lose funding from central government if they raise it by more than 2%? Albion.
  • Score: 1

7:35am Fri 14 Feb 14

Thee Voice of Reason says...

They lose funding if they raise tax. If they raise it over 2% they need public input.
1.99% will be the rise.
They lose funding if they raise tax. If they raise it over 2% they need public input. 1.99% will be the rise. Thee Voice of Reason
  • Score: 6

9:06am Fri 14 Feb 14

alive and awake says...

If they raise it 2% they have to have a referendum.

It strikes me that every time we see Council financial figures they have changed, and becoming increasingly lower. Do they take financial advice from their hold team mate Rev Flowers?
If they raise it 2% they have to have a referendum. It strikes me that every time we see Council financial figures they have changed, and becoming increasingly lower. Do they take financial advice from their hold team mate Rev Flowers? alive and awake
  • Score: 3

10:33am Fri 14 Feb 14

allinittogether says...

Coun Glen Miller, leader of the Conservative group said “Overall it feels as if our political masters are haplessly riding the rollercoaster rather than carefully driving it, which worries me.”

Yeah and it's your Chancellor's rollercoaster that we're all on that's where the problem is. You plonker Glen!
Coun Glen Miller, leader of the Conservative group said “Overall it feels as if our political masters are haplessly riding the rollercoaster rather than carefully driving it, which worries me.” Yeah and it's your Chancellor's rollercoaster that we're all on that's where the problem is. You plonker Glen! allinittogether
  • Score: -5

12:21pm Fri 14 Feb 14

JAtkinson says...

allinittogether wrote:
Coun Glen Miller, leader of the Conservative group said “Overall it feels as if our political masters are haplessly riding the rollercoaster rather than carefully driving it, which worries me.”

Yeah and it's your Chancellor's rollercoaster that we're all on that's where the problem is. You plonker Glen!
Local Tories somehow think their central government masters' swingeing cuts of £ms do not affect the northern cities they're so obviously targeting.
[quote][p][bold]allinittogether[/bold] wrote: Coun Glen Miller, leader of the Conservative group said “Overall it feels as if our political masters are haplessly riding the rollercoaster rather than carefully driving it, which worries me.” Yeah and it's your Chancellor's rollercoaster that we're all on that's where the problem is. You plonker Glen![/p][/quote]Local Tories somehow think their central government masters' swingeing cuts of £ms do not affect the northern cities they're so obviously targeting. JAtkinson
  • Score: -3

5:14pm Fri 14 Feb 14

G_Firth says...

The problem is that all councils have failed and jumped to early when they sold off all the social housing to grab the big bucks, forgetting to look into the future as to where money was going to come from once that pot was depleted.
We need people who are going to use some common sense in the council and are not just in it for what they can get a personal glorification
The problem is that all councils have failed and jumped to early when they sold off all the social housing to grab the big bucks, forgetting to look into the future as to where money was going to come from once that pot was depleted. We need people who are going to use some common sense in the council and are not just in it for what they can get a personal glorification G_Firth
  • Score: 6

3:11pm Sat 15 Feb 14

RollandSmoke says...

It doesn't suprise me that the council has held back on spending on a lot of city center projects whilst Westfield have dragged their feet. It only makes sense therefore that when the Westfield site is completed the projects that have been put on hold will move forward and thus spending will increase. I'm sure there will be lots of complaints and a lot of point scoring excersizes off the back of this but isn't the reported reserves and the projected spending evidence of the forward thinking that many posters claim doesn't exist?
It doesn't suprise me that the council has held back on spending on a lot of city center projects whilst Westfield have dragged their feet. It only makes sense therefore that when the Westfield site is completed the projects that have been put on hold will move forward and thus spending will increase. I'm sure there will be lots of complaints and a lot of point scoring excersizes off the back of this but isn't the reported reserves and the projected spending evidence of the forward thinking that many posters claim doesn't exist? RollandSmoke
  • Score: -2

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