LEEDS City Council will have to make nearly £40m in “one-off” cuts next year, which could include selling off some of its own buildings, a meeting has heard.

The claims were made by one of the council’s most senior civil servants scrutiny board meeting this week, in which he added £80m of ‘recurrent savings’ would also have to be made in order to plug an expected budget gap for next year.

It follows news that Leeds City Council believes it will face a £119m funding black hole – partly due to the effects of Covid-19 on its services.

Senior officers added that this could also mean job losses, but added around 1,000 council employees had expressed an interest in a “voluntary early leavers policy”. 

The meeting was told by council’s chief financial officer Victoria Bradshaw that the council was expecting extra money, known as a “provisional settlement” from Government later this year, although it was unclear what this would be.

She added: “Within the £119m, there is an inherent budget gap of £60m. But on top of that, due to Covid, we incurred an extra £60m, due to loss of income through our council tax, fees, rates and charges; but also through expenditure.

“This is an unprecedented level we are looking at for 2021/22. We worked in the summer to start to identify savings.”

The council’s director of resources and housing Neil Evans said the council would have to look at selling some of its sites, known as “asset disposal” in order to make ends meet.

He said: “We are very early in bringing forward savings – I don’t think we have ever been quite as early as this. There will be more to come in the meetings in October, November and December.

“We are of the view that we need to find about £80m of recurrent savings for 2021/22, then we will be looking at using one-offs to bridge between £80m and £119m. It includes things like asset disposal.”

“It will be a challenge. It will also mean a reduction in the number of staff we employ. We have a voluntary early leavers policy which has had around about 1,000 people who would wish to go. We are trying to match that up against where the reductions need to take place.”

The council said last month it has so far identified £32m of savings for next year, which could lead to a loss of around 478 jobs. However, this week’s meeting claimed many of these could be voluntary or the removal of available vacancies.