BRADFORD Council is set to overspend its net revenue budget by £55.9 million next year after posting a balanced budget over the last 12 months.

The local authority successfully balanced its £385.4m net revenue budget during the 2021-22 financial year, which ended last March. This was after taking account of the £27m of Covid-related funding that was carried forward from 2020-21, and £58m of additional pandemic-related funding received in 2021-22.

The report states the impact of Covid on council finances has been vast and is likely to continue into the medium term, but the emergency Covid funds from government have stopped.

But there were some overspends in service areas in 2021-22, including its Children’s Services which overspent by £15.5m primarily due to increasing numbers of children requiring care and support as well as the impact of agency staff costs.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bradford Council leader, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, says the local authority continues to feel the impact of the pandemic Bradford Council leader, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, says the local authority continues to feel the impact of the pandemic

A comprehensive improvement plan is underway to address challenges in children’s services, including a social worker recruitment campaign, investment in prevention and early help.

The council says its 2022-23 financial position is projected to be extremely challenging as is the case for local authorities nationally facing the continuing impact of Covid, rising demands for services and unprecedented inflation.

On current projections the Council is forecast to overspend the net revenue budget by £55.9m in 2022-23, with £20m of this is due to the expected impact of inflation above budgeted levels.

The council approved a budget increase for inflation of £22m for 2022-23, which factored in contract price inflation based on CPI of four per cent and energy price inflation of five per cent.

An update on the year-end financial position of Bradford Council for 2021-22 will go before its Executive on July 5.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council leader, said: “We continue to support all our communities across the district through these challenging times and we know that the year ahead is going to bring even greater demands with the cost of living crisis.

“The 2021-22 report shows we managed the finances well given the demands of the pandemic.

“However, we still face the impact of the pandemic and this will continue to be felt yet the funding from government will not continue for local authorities.

“Children’s and Adult Social Care pressures continue and we face rising energy and inflationary costs, which is why it is important that we are planning well ahead of time now to address these challenges and continue to invest in good services that residents rely on.”