FOR the first time in several years, Bradford Council’s budget announcement includes no newly announced job cuts.

One off government funding to key areas, including an extra £10 million to social care in Bradford, meant the 2020/21 budget will be able to focus more on investment than cuts - Council leaders were told.

Bradford residents will, however, still be paying more in Council Tax after April.

The Council plans to increase general Council Tax by 1.9 per cent. There will also be a two per cent Social Care precept added to tax bills, which will go towards supporting the district’s stretched care system.

It will mean a Band D house will have to pay an extra £54.79 a year.

The budget was discussed at a meeting of the Council’s Executive yesterday.

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Members heard that service that had been cut to the bone in recent years would now be getting more investment.

This included an extra £21m for children’s services, an extra £700,000 for the libraries budget, £24m worth of new projects to tackle climate change, including a major tree planting scheme, a £700,000 boost to welfare advice, £555,000 will be invested in mental health services and £700,000 to tackle childhood obesity.

Planned cuts of £500,000 to the museum service and £513,000 to the youth services have been delayed for at least a year.

A 50 per cent Council Tax discount provided to care leavers aged 18 to 21 will be expanded to leavers aged up to 25.

Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe said that since 2010 the government had cut funding for Bradford Council by £278 million, adding: “Our spending power is now half of what it was in 2010.

“It is tremendously challenging for the people of our district and for our employees who have had to deliver more for less.

“I’ve always said you can’t cut your way out of austerity, you have to invest, and that is what we’re doing, and that’s what we’re doing, investing in the city centre and town centres. We’re investing in all sorts of innovative ways.”

In recent years Council budgets have included hundreds of job cuts, but Cllr Hinchcliffe said the 2020/21 budget would contain no new job losses.

She said: “It hasn’t been pleasant sending out letters to staff each year telling them they might be made redundant in the coming year.”

She called for the government to provide more certainty about future funding for Bradford. And Cllr Hinchcliffe pointed out that a planned Government green paper into social care - which would detail how the UK would provide social care for its ageing population, has been delayed numerous times in the past three years.

Officers spoke about the various regeneration projects included in the budget, and gave updates on those to which funding had already been allocated.

These include the new Darley Street Market and public square, which will be built on the site of the former Marks & Spencer on the once bustling shopping street.

The Executive was told that contractors are currently removing asbestos from the building, and demolition work would start in Spring.

The Executive voted to begin a public consultation into the 2020/21 budget, which began yesterday. People can have their say by visiting the Council website.