A WEST Yorkshire council will need to trim millions of pounds from its budget in coming years to balance the books, if financial settlements do not change.

Calderdale Council is grappling with a projected £6.6 million overspend this financial year while bracing itself for around £11 million worth of cuts next year.

Council officers are taking action to reduce this year’s overspend, much arising from increasing demand for, and cost of, care packages for adults and children it legally has to provide.

Senior councillors said the financial update covering finances up to the end of the council year’s second quarter on September 30, and projections for the years ahead in the Mid-Term Financial Plan, would inform budget-setting for all parties early in the new year.

Council Cabinet members considered both papers this week.

Cabinet member for Resources, Councillor Silvia Dacre (Lab, Todmorden), said action was being taken to reduce this year’s overspends.

She added: “We cannot allow that figure to be the case at the end of the year – everything has to be done to see that projection doesn’t come to pass."

Councils have a legal duty to balance their budget and although the papers indicated the council could use some reserves to help alleviate the situation, that was not desirable and it had to remain open to “drastic measures” including not replacing staff, according to Cllr Dacre.

Councillor Steven Leigh (Con, Ryburn) earlier expressed concern in Cabinet question time that the situation was “alarming”, entering “dangerous territory”, and becoming unsustainable.

Cllr Dacre said she was sure members and the public would recognise the challenges local authorities were facing at the moment, including rising social care costs, children’s special educational needs placement and transport costs, and inflation, including rising energy prices.

Calderdale had prepared the ground to meet challenges, according to Cllr Dacre.

She said: “We have taken difficult and often unpopular decisions in the last few years to get in a better position."

Cllr Dacre added that the council had not embarked on an investment “spree”.

Investments it has made, for example in children’s homes, would eventually help reduce eye-watering costs of out-of-area placements,  councillors heard.

Cllr Dacre said: “But we are under no illusions the best run local authorities are at risk of financial meltdown at the moment."

The Mid Term Financial Plan is forecasting savings of £11 million, £15 million and £14.5 million will be required in the financial years to 2026-27, having already made savings of £120 million by 2023-24 compared to its 2010 budget, following cuts in Government grant, the councillors heard.

Cllr Dacre said national Government was not grasping outstanding issues - including adult social care, children’s placements, and only giving councils one-year financial settlements - made planning difficult.