Wakefield Council’s blueprint for balancing the 2024/25 budget has been unveiled, encouraging public input into the financial framework. This budget is integral to the realization of a comprehensive two-year plan, articulating Wakefield’s commitment to enhancing residents’ lives and ensuring the district’s long-term sustainability.
Reflecting a nationwide trend, Wakefield faces a substantial disparity between the funds required to deliver local services and the government’s allocated income. The ‘Building a Fairer Future’ initiative concentrates the council’s resources on essential priorities until 2026, striving to bridge the £33.1 million budget gap.
Wakefield’s Leader, Cllr Denise Jeffery, explains the Council’s approach to meeting it’s £33.1m budget gap and delivering for the district.
“We’re not immune from the very significant challenges facing all Councils. But we’ve managed our finances responsibly in recent years. And we know what needs to be done to continue to be sustainable into the future.
“Our plan, underpinned by the budget, helps to set out how we are going to meet this challenge responsibly, sustainably and fairly.
“We’re continuing to use the resources we have to make the maximum impact possible. We know our communities need us more than ever before – the huge increase in demand for children and adult social care services shows us that.
“We’ll never lose sight of everyone that relies on us. We’re committed to putting vulnerable people across Wakefield first. And we’ll carry on supporting our residents and businesses so that we can all live in a place we’re proud of.”
Scheduled for discussion on January 16, the 2024/25 budget report outlines proposals to achieve savings and efficiencies exceeding £21 million. Additional income, including £1.4 million from housing growth and £1.6 million from business growth, is envisaged.
To support adult social care services, a 2% precept is proposed, generating an extra £3.5 million. Furthermore, a 2.99% increase in Council Tax is suggested, adding 63p per week to Band A.
Cllr Jack Hemingway, Deputy Leader of Wakefield Council said; “This Government have presided over 14 years of chronic underfunding of local Council services, and that is having an impact on all of our lives every day.
“Any extra money we are given goes nowhere near covering the cost of inflation and rising demand for our services, particularly in social care. This inevitably means more pressure on the Council budget and on local taxpayers.
“The Government’s funding model makes it clear that Councils are expected to increase Council Tax if services are to survive. We know this is yet another financial ask of residents, but it’s one we have to make.”
The consultation on the 2024/25 budget proposals is currently open until January 28, seeking public input at https://eu.surveymonkey.com/r/HaveYourSayBudget24-25. Subsequently, feedback will inform the final budget proposals, which are set to be presented to Cabinet in February and formally endorsed at a special full Council meeting on February 28.