In a final plea to the Government, Calderdale Council is calling for urgent measures to support local communities, citing unprecedented cost and demand pressures that require immediate attention. The plea comes ahead of the House of Commons’ confirmation of local authorities’ funding allocation for the fiscal year 2024/25.

The Government’s provisional Finance Settlement for councils, unveiled on December 18, 2023, has raised concerns as it falls short of addressing the substantial budget and demand challenges faced by Calderdale Council. Despite an overall 6.5% increase in core spending power for councils, the provisional allocation for Calderdale stands at a more modest 5.9%. This increase is contingent on the Council raising Council Tax to the maximum allowable level of 4.99%, inclusive of the 2% precept for social care.

The latest estimate of the Council’s spending power for 2024/25 reveals a shortfall of £655,000 compared to the forecast outlined in the Medium-Term Financial Plan in November 2023.

Councillor Jane Scullion, Leader of Calderdale Council, expressed her concerns, stating, “We find ourselves over half a million pounds worse off than anticipated. Urgent additional funding from the national Government is imperative to provide the necessary support to our communities. We urge careful consideration of the significant pressures on council services and the escalating demand. Our formal response to the Local Government Finance Settlement consultation will emphasize this need before the final allocations are nationally confirmed in the coming weeks.”

Looking ahead to February, when the Council is set to establish a balanced budget for the upcoming financial year, Cllr Scullion highlighted the challenges faced.
“We are over half a million pounds worse off than expected. We urgently need more funding from national Government to give our communities the support they need, and we urge them to give further consideration to the serious pressures on council services and escalating demand. We will be calling for this in our response to the Local Government Finance Settlement consultation, before the final allocations are confirmed nationally in the next few weeks.

“In February we need to set a balanced budget for the financial year ahead. Government funding keeps reducing in real terms and is not keeping up with the rising costs we face. We are more reliant than ever on Council Tax as our main source of income. We have some really difficult decisions to make to close our £11.7 million funding gap. Decisions that will affect the services our communities rely on every day, despite the amazing work our Council has done to reduce costs over the past decade.

“The rapidly increasing demand for our services, especially in social care for children and adults, means we will have to do more with less, having already lost £110 million from our budgets and a third of our workforce since 2010.”

The provisional Local Government Finance Settlement will inform the budget proposals discussed by Calderdale Council’s Cabinet on Monday, January 15, 2024. Following this meeting, the Council’s annual budget consultation will commence, providing local residents with a 28-day window to offer their comments. The final budget is scheduled to be ratified at the annual Budget Council meeting on Monday, February 26, 2024.