Fears that budget cut proposals would hit vulnerable adults and the young unemployed hard have prompted Bradford Council’s ruling executive to make a number of changes to its initial plans.
The Labour-run executive has now recommended a budget to the Council following extensive consultation with taxpayers, focus groups and staff.
The recommendation includes a proposal to establish a £4.5 million fund to help address the problem of rising youth unemployment. More details are expected to emerge in the coming weeks of how the flagship fund would operate.
Additional changes to its original proposals for adult services include reducing savings and investing in transitional support for services to vulnerable people; withdrawing proposals to de-commission “generic” services which act as the last safety net for the most vulnerable people who often have very complex needs; and putting all proposals to make savings in day care on hold pending a review of all provision.
The Executive also announced new capital investment including a multi-million pound package to deliver affordable housing, investment in renewable energy and to reduce the Council’s office costs and overheads.
More changes have been proposed for services to children and young people including: £294,000 to help services for children with social educational and behavioural disorders get on to a stronger financial footing.
the withdrawal of £24,000 proposed savings for youth services and £50,000 for early years services provided by the voluntary sector.
£150,000 to help small groups supporting young people cope with changes in national funding regimes.
a commitment to work with the voluntary sector to deliver youth inclusion activities.
The environment, sport and culture department has also seen changes to Labour’s initial proposals, with additional charges above inflation for sport and leisure withdrawn and the withdrawal of proposed changes to household waste centres and proposals to reduce library opening hours and cut the book fund by £350,000.
Council leader Ian Greenwood said: “We are having to make some very tough choices because of the scale and speed of public spending cuts but have delivered a prudent, balanced and ambitious budget given the available resources.
“We have listened to what people have had to say and have responded to the key issues being raised.
“This budget is not just about cuts, it represents £422 million of investment into services to the people of this district in 2012-13.
“It freezes council tax for a further year providing some relief to hard-pressed households.
“It delivers £4.5 million investment into helping to tackle one of the most critical issues facing the district, the blight of youth unemployment.
“It delivers investment into our key priorities, our city centre and district wide economy, our children and young people, support for vulnerable adults, affordable housing, keeping our environment clean and safe, providing leisure opportunities and helping to secure the health of our citizens.”
The changes now leave a package of £29m in cuts instead of the initial £31m proposed.
A final decision on the budget will be taken on Thursday.