This week has seen Leeds City Council announce its budgetary plans.
We’ll be covering aspects of this in more posts.
The context for everything is the continued vicious squeeze on Council budgets by Central Government – beginning back under the LibDem/Tory Coalition in 2010, and continuing ever since. 50% of central government funding has already been slashed – and we’re far from the end.
2017 will be even tougher for Councils especially Labour ones in the North.So, as Alex Sobel. Councillor for Meanwood and Vice Cahir of Leeds NW Labour Party put it
‘it’s with a heavy heart that we have to admit that we’ve not managed to come to a budget without job losses – which we are still working on with a couple of months still to go until the budget meeting.”
Continuing job losses are still more or less certain – but the Council is working hard to minimize them.
The Council and the Trade Unions have issued a joint statement.
Councillor Judith Blake, Labour Leader of Leeds City Council first made clear the dire context within which all decisions are now being made:
“ Since 2010 the Conservative Government’s austerity policies have seen over £200million a year taken away from the funding we received from government to run vital local services in Leeds, that’s nearly 50% gone and there is worse to come.
We are expecting the support from government to reduce by another £50 million per year which means we will have to stretch Leeds residents’ Council Tax even further and work even harder to raise money from other sources to cover the gap.”
“In these circumstances, the Council has worked closely with the Trade Unions representing Council staff to comprehensively minimise the need to make compulsory redundancies to achieve the reduction in budget required by the Tory cuts.
We will continue to work together to make the council an efficient organisation and I know many staff have changed their roles and learnt new skills as part of our response of protecting as many services as possible in the face of Tory cuts.”
Dick Banks, Secretary of Leeds City Council Joint Trade Union Committee said. “Due to continuing savage cuts, forced on Leeds City Council and its residents by this Tory Government, job losses have been inevitable. Original forecasts predicted 2000 staff would be made redundant. However a close working relationship and co-operation with the Trade Unions, have meant job losses have been significantly reduced to 800. We are hopeful there will be no compulsory redundancies, within that number”.
The 2017-18 budget proposals will be presented to the Council’s Executive Board on December 14 – followed by a public consultation.
The final decision of the budget will be made on February 22 2017.