Kirklees Council’s Cabinet is set to convene next Tuesday, on 27 June 2023, to evaluate the severe impact of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis on the authority’s financial stability.
Senior councillors will undertake a comprehensive assessment of the council’s official financial outturn report for the 2022/23 fiscal year, aiming to comprehend the consequences of recent economic upheavals.
According to the report, the council incurred an overspend of £27 million on its £350 million revenue budget for the 2022/23 period. The major portion of this overspending can be attributed to the financial strains inflicted by the cost-of-living crisis, alongside the heightened demand for council services. These results align with the financial projections provided by council finance officials over the past nine months.
Throughout the year, the council had to contend with inflationary pressures impacting wages, energy prices, goods, and services, resulting in an additional £15 million burden on its budget. Furthermore, the increased demands for services such as road maintenance, provisions for children with special needs, and funding for home care services contributed an additional £12 million to the council’s financial obligations.
As previously outlined in its budget earlier this year, the council has tapped into its reserves to offset the overspend, while also outlining measures to achieve savings in various services across the council during the ongoing fiscal year.
Councillor Paul Davies, the Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, stated, “The extraordinary economic pressures witnessed over the past year have affected every household and local authority in the country.”
Davies further emphasised the council’s cautious financial approach in previous years, which has allowed them to utilise reserves to mitigate the unpredicted and unforeseen challenges faced. He highlighted the council’s proactive steps in reducing costs related to recruitment, infrastructure maintenance, and service expenditures, with additional savings outlined in the current year’s budget.
Despite these challenges, the council remains committed to prioritising support for residents and organisations in need, whether through core services or supplementary aid such as the Household Support Fund. Notably, the council’s infrastructure investments in town centers across Kirklees are intended to offer substantial protection against future cost-of-living crises.
However, Councillor Davies expressed the need for transparency about the future, stating, “We owe it to council tax payers to be candid about what lies ahead. The economic outlook for our country remains bleak, with persistently high inflation continuing to strain budgets. Simultaneously, the demand for services continues to grow. Additionally, the national funding formula for English councils consistently penalises Kirklees and its residents each year. As a result, the next twelve months appear to be just as arduous as the previous ones.”
The Kirklees Council’s Cabinet meeting on Tuesday will serve as a crucial platform for deliberating on the council’s financial position, seeking solutions to mitigate the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and ensure the continued provision of vital services to the community.