Bradford Council’s Executive members are set to receive an update on the Council’s projected year-end financial position for the fiscal year 2023-24. This report, scheduled to be presented on Thursday, July 13, will be the first monitoring report of its kind.
Based on available information as of the end of May 2023, the Council anticipates an overspend of £13.8 million on its net revenue budget of £453.2 million by March 31, 2024. In order to mitigate this overspending, the Council will be implementing measures aimed at reducing financial pressures throughout the remainder of the year.
In recent years, Bradford Council has faced significant challenges due to budgetary constraints. Since 2010, the Council has been required to deliver savings exceeding £350 million, all while grappling with substantial cuts in real terms funding and increased demands on Adults and Children’s social care services. Additionally, the Council had to contend with unexpected inflationary pressures in the 2022-23 fiscal year.
In light of these financial difficulties, the Council plans to propose new capital schemes. Among these proposals is an additional £182,000 funding allocation to complete the Changing Places Toilets project, as well as £220,000 earmarked for disabled adaptations within the Housing Revenue Account (HRA). These initiatives aim to ensure that the needs of disabled tenants and individuals with health-related issues are adequately addressed.
Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, the Leader of Bradford Council, expressed concern over the deepening inequalities and regional disparities faced by the most deprived councils in England. Referring to a recent Yorkshire Post article, she highlighted that the most deprived 10% of councils, including Bradford, have endured nearly three times the cuts experienced by the wealthiest 10% of councils, such as Surrey. Cllr Hinchcliffe emphasised the need for greater attention to these disparities and urged the government to recognise and rectify the inequity in the Local Government finance system, which has disproportionately impacted councils like Bradford.
Despite the challenges, Councillor Hinchcliffe commended the Council’s efforts to manage the budget cuts while striving to protect essential services. According to data compiled by the Local Government Association, all Bradford Council services, except for those related to Children’s Social Care, are either meeting or operating below benchmark spending levels when compared to similar councils.
The Council remains committed to exploring further mitigating actions to alleviate financial pressures. Alongside other local authorities, Bradford Council continues to advocate for government intervention to address the imbalances within the Local Government finance system that have placed undue strain on councils facing disproportionate challenges like Bradford.