Bradford Council is set to reveal its proposed budget for the fiscal year 2024-25, coupled with an overarching financial strategy aimed at securing the city’s long-term financial stability.

Depleting general reserves, exacerbated by surging costs in Children’s Social Care and rampant inflation, have led the Council to advocate for substantial cuts in service expenditures. Simultaneously, plans are underway to augment income and bridge the staggering £120 million budget deficit.

The comprehensive five-year plan targets seven key areas:

  1. Revenue savings
  2. Asset sales
  3. Income augmentation
  4. Capital expenditure reductions
  5. Strengthened expenditure controls
  6. A thorough review of financial management and finances
  7. Investment in essential functions crucial for the Council’s financial recovery

The proposed budget encompasses £45 million in revenue savings for 2024-25, spanning both the Council and Bradford Children and Families Trust. This marks the initial phase of a broader initiative, anticipating an annual average saving of approximately £35 million for the next five years, with £40 million earmarked for 2025/26.

Additionally, the financial blueprint contemplates divesting council-owned buildings and land to generate revenue and address the budget deficit. Discussions on these proposals are scheduled for a meeting of Bradford Council’s Executive on Tuesday, 5 March, where updates on ongoing Sports and Libraries Reviews will also be presented.

Councillors will review the outcomes of the recent budget consultation and provide recommendations on setting the 2024-25 budget and Council Tax for the same period. The Council, grappling with financial challenges primarily due to escalating demands in Children’s and Adult Social Care, has seen diminishing government support since 2011/12.

The cost of living crisis and inflation on Council resources as well as demand for those services has meant that the Council since 2011/12 has taken measures to reduce costs and increase income amounting to over £350 million already.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said; “We have been clear for some time that the Council’s finances, like many others across the country, are really challenged.

“We now have to take some really difficult decisions, with more to come in the future, if we are to ensure the Council’s long-term financial sustainability and continue to provide essential services.

“We know from the comments made through the consultation that people care passionately about their local services. The Council has looked at all the comments that have come in. However, the financial challenge is so great that we sadly are not in a position to prevent the proposed cuts. We have tasked council officers to work with partners to reduce the impacts of these cuts on our local communities as much as possible.

“We remain ambitious for the people of the district. We are still committed to driving growth through investment in culture and the delivery of a pipeline of regeneration projects in the city and our town centres for a better, greener, more prosperous Bradford District.”

The final budget report is slated for consideration by the full council on 7 March, following the executive meeting on 5 March.