COUNCIL: Budget proposals include flood fund

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet has announced budget proposals which include the launch of a flood recovery and resilience fund worth £3 million. The draft proposals, which were revealed at a Cabinet meeting on 18 January 2016 at Halifax Town Hall, outline the Cabinet’s priorities for the year ahead.

The Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift, said:

“We are facing exceptional challenges in this year and in the years ahead.  We have already seen massive reductions in the financial support which we receive from the government, and these will continue until 2020, when revenue support will virtually cease.

“At the same time we are leading the recovery from the largest and most extreme flooding to affect Calderdale in recent history.

“To meet these unprecedented challenges we have developed a new strategy which will allow us to plan ahead to ensure continued financial stability in these uncertain times.”

There are four elements to the new approach:

–       clear spending and saving proposals for the next two years which will protect key services whilst achieving a balanced budget;

–       the creation of a £3 million flood recovery and resilience fund;

–       a vision of the shape of the Council in 2020 and

–       a change programme to reshape the Council so that we can meet the projected budget gap in 2018/19.

The Council is committed to ensuring high quality social care at a time when demand is steadily rising and has included the 2% additional Social Care Precept introduced by the Government to help fund this growth.

As the Council is now facing exceptional costs the budget proposals also include a 1.95% rise in Council Tax rates in 2016/17 and 2017/18. Council Tax in Calderdale has only risen by 1% in total over the last six years.

The money raised by this increase will create a dedicated fund which will help to finance the recovery and rebuilding programme following the devastating Boxing Day floods in 2015.

The Council has already identified savings of £78 million since 2010, and had savings in place that would have met the expected funding gap in 2016/17. Following the Chancellor’s autumn statement and the local government finance announcement the Council needs to find additional savings for 2016/17.   We have managed to keep these down to £1.4 million after receiving higher than expected Council Tax receipts and by taking an innovative approach to the way we finance our capital programme.

The findings of the major budget consultation exercise during the summer of 2015, in which local people identified which Council services they value the most, have been used to develop the budget proposals.  Services will be delivered differently, there will be an increase in efficiencies and resources will be targeted more effectively to balance the books in 2017/18.

As Government funding for local government will largely end by 2020, the way that the Council provides services will also need to change.

The Council will continue to provide responsible, flexible and appropriate care for vulnerable people, both young and old.  Major front line services, which keep our communities safe, maintain our highways network and keep our neighbourhoods clean, will be protected.

Council Tax will be increasingly vital in providing revenue for the Council and providing sustainable growth in housing to meet local demand and bringing empty homes back into use will be a priority.

The income from business rates will remain within local government in future, therefore the Council will also encourage the appropriate development of new and existing commercial sites across Calderdale.

The budget proposals cover the next three financial years, from 2016/17 to 2018/19, and are available to view at www.calderdale.gov.uk/budget

There are many ways in which people can have their say on the budget proposals:

By attending a public meeting:

Wednesday 27 January at 6.30pm at Brighouse High School Sixth Form CentreMulberry Suite, Parsonage Lane, Brighouse HD6 1FB
Thursday 28 January at 7pm at Central Library, Halifax
Thursday 4 February at 6.30pm at Todmorden Town Hall
Tuesday 9 February at 6.30pm at Threeways Centre, Nursery Lane, Ovenden, Halifax, HX3 5SX

By emailing: Download the feedback form at www.calderdale.gov.uk/budget and email it to budget@calderdale.gov.uk.

By writing: Complete the form at http://www.calderdale.gov.uk/budget and post it (no stamp required) to:

Budget Consultation
FREEPOST
Licence number RTJK-SCKU-XGCL
Town Hall
Halifax HX1 1UJ

All responses will be considered before the final recommendations are made by Cabinet on Monday 15 February 2016.

Final decisions will be taken at the Annual Budget Council meeting on Monday 29 February 2016 at Halifax Town Hall.

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