CASH CRISIS: Maximum council tax hike still won’t save services, residents warned

Kirklees Council leader David Sheard. (D526F439)
Kirklees Council leader David Sheard. (D526F439)

Residents across Kirklees are facing the maximum council tax increase permitted, but are being told it still won’t save services.

That is the stark warning from Kirklees Council after the cabinet voted to raise the precept by five per cent.

In real terms, it means a Band A household will be forced to pay an extra £4 a month.

And after crunching the numbers, the cabinet says the council will still be forced to dip into reserves with savings of more than £50m still needed by 2021.

The financial situation has become so dire, community groups may even be asked to take on some services.

Coun David Sheard, leader of Kirklees Council, said: “We will continue to invest in our priorities of making sure those most vulnerable are supported and we have obvious pressures in some areas like children’s services where the right thing to do is to continue to invest.

“But we must focus on our top priorities and do fewer things ourselves, with partners, volunteers or community groups taking on other services they want to keep.

“We have reduced services across all sectors – some more visible than others, for example changing the way we collect waste to save money.

“We continue to face our most serious ever financial challenge so many more services will be reduced, removed or taken on by other people or organisations.”

The hike includes a rise of two per cent in general spend, with the additional three per cent for social care proposed by the Government.

Coun Sheard said promises made by the Government about freezing precepts in previous years has backfired and now left Kirklees Council worse off.

He said: “Past decisions taken in good faith are also now costing us.

“We were told that if we froze our council tax, a zero per cent rise for our residents, we would receive the cash we would have gained from a increase.

“That money has not been added into the base budget, it was to come through grant and now that grant has been cut.

“It is costing us £14 million every year.

“Withdrawing revenue support grant will cost us around £33 million over the next four years.

“We have made significant savings - over £120m - through efficiencies and transformation, with further savings budgeted, but even after these are applied the scale of the financial challenge is massive.

Full council will now meet to discuss the budget and make a final decision on Wednesday, February 15.