‘Cutting services’ budget is essential for savings

Graham Turner.
Graham Turner.

Kirklees Council is looking to change the way it runs services after its swingeing four-year spending plan was agreed.

The council’s plans, which puts a range of services under threat and means an increase in Council Tax of 3.95 per cent for 2016/17, were voted in at a full council meeting last week.

Mirfield Library. (D541C429)

Mirfield Library. (D541C429)

Unprecedented cuts to the Kirklees Council’s budget will mean that 40 per cent of its funds will have been lost between 2010-2020.

By making the reductions, the council is seeking to operate in a totally new way.

It has said: “Social Action – helping people to help other people – and improving the health and wellbeing of the people of Kirklees underpins all of this.”

Amendments to Labour’s budget from each of the other political groups were voted down at the meeting, before proposals were agreed by 33 votes to 28.

Wilton Park in Batley. (D544A410)

Wilton Park in Batley. (D544A410)

Introducing the plans, Cabinet Member for Resources Coun Graham Turner said it would be impossible to make the savings needed without an impact on front line services.

He said: “Members of the public will begin to see changes in the next few years.

“Some of our changes will be delivering differently through innovation, but we can only do so much without affecting services.

“In the next year we will have reduce what we offer as a museums service, review children’s centres, town halls, look to dispose of more underused buildings, sell off more land the list goes on and on.

“We believe in public services and will do all we can to protect those in need and the most vulnerable, those with long term medical problems, those in poverty and those at risk.”

The council tax increase, which is the maximum allowed by the government, will be around £1 a week for an average home.

The Young People’s Service, which aims to support vulnerable children through a range of interventions, may be cut in its entirety by £4,297,000 as a new model is developed.

And services for the disabled and elderly also face a reduction of six-figure sums.

Oakwell Hall, Red House Museum and Dewsbury Museum now could face the axe from the council’s budget as £531,000 is to be slashed from this area by 2018. Opening hours will reduce and the council will fund no more than three across the district.

Council subsidies for remaining day nurseries and day care, costing £231,000, are due to be reduced entirely by 2018.

Funding for the children’s Music Service is likely to be cut by £296,000 as of 2017.

Waste collection and street cleaning is set to be reduced by £600,000 by next year. It is hoped modern technology in this area will help the council deal with it successfully.

The purse for Parks and Open Spaces is set to be chopped by £702,000 by 2017.

Library and Information Centres face a reduction of £1,854,000 by 2018.

So far Kirklees Council has made savings of more than £106m, with £29m more planned over the next few years – but it still faces a budget gap of £38m in 2019/20.

During the last Parliament, there was an overall reduction of more than 40 per cent in government funding to Kirklees Council. After the most recent Autumn Statement and spending review, it is thought that government funding will be cut by a further 34 per cent by 2020.

Funding forecasts by Kirklees Council suggest a budget gap of £16m in 2017-18, rising to £30m in 2018-19 and £38m in 2019-20.

Almost 1,400 jobs have been cut during the past five years and a further 1,000 are likely to go.’