Wakefield Council has outlined preliminary budget-saving suggestions for the fiscal year 2024-25, demonstrating a responsible approach to safeguarding services while addressing a £35.6 million budgetary challenge.

The Cabinet has been tasked with reviewing these early proposals, intended to enhance the Council’s financial sustainability. Subject to approval, these plans will become integral to the budget consultation scheduled for January 2024.

Cllr Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: “We’ve managed our finances responsibly over the years, making the tough decisions required to make sure our position continues to be stable. “But we’ve had over a decade of chronic underfunding by central Government, huge inflationary pressures, and unprecedented demand on services. Those mean that every Council up and down the country is facing significant financial challenges.

“We’re not immune from that, but we know what needs to be done to be sustainable into the future. We’re in a good position to achieve that, and these proposals show how we’ll continue to make the Council more efficient, at the same time as protecting jobs and supporting our most vulnerable residents.”

A spokesperson for Wakefield Council said; “Our plans include maximising every bit of grant funding received, and delivering projects via external funding opportunities. Recognition of ongoing recruitment and retention challenges mean there can be further efficiencies realised from the existing staffing budgets in recognition of this across each directorate.”

Outlined in the latest report, the proposed savings and efficiencies amount to £16.8 million and include:

  • Over £1.4 million from continued investment in energy-efficient street lighting.
  • Approximately £3.5 million by acknowledging lead times for recruiting to vacancies to protect current jobs.
  • Over £2.5 million by enhancing efficiency in adult and children’s social care operations.
  • Approximately £0.5 million through increased charges for trade refuse, services to schools, utility companies, and higher planning fees.
  • £0.4 million from reducing the Council’s property estate, including the sale of Castleford Civic Centre.

Cllr Jeffery added: “We remain ambitious for the whole district. By being responsible with our financial management and changing how we deliver some things, we can continue to invest in the priorities that our communities rely on us for.”

The initial budget proposals are slated for consideration at the Council’s upcoming Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, 12 December, starting at 10:30 am. The meeting can be viewed live or later on the Council’s website. The Council is legally obligated to deliver a balanced budget.

The comprehensive set of budget proposals will be presented to the Cabinet in January, following the receipt of the provisional local government settlement in December. Subsequent consultation on the Council’s budget proposals with residents and businesses will occur, with the final 2024/25 budget proposals reported to Cabinet in February.