Leeds City Council has finalized its budget for 2024/25, which includes austerity measures such as new car parking charges, revised community hub and library hours, increased adult social care fees, and reviews of council care homes and community centers. Despite an infusion of additional government funding, the council’s leader admits that the funding is not enough to make a significant impact on the financial strain the council is facing.
What austerity measures is Leeds City Council implementing in their 2024/25 budget?
Leeds City Council’s 2024/25 budget includes austerity measures such as:
- New car parking charges at parks
- Revised community hub and library hours
- Increased adult social care fees
- Reviews of council care homes and community centers
- Changes to children’s centers and nurseries
- Charges for bulky waste removal after the first free collection
- Closure of Pudsey Civic Hall and end of the lease at Thwaite Watermill Museum
- A reduction in council staffing levels by 323.1 full-time posts
Council Budget Under Pressure
The financial landscape for Leeds City Council is one of austerity and challenge as it moves to finalise its annual budget plans for the fiscal year 2024/25. The council’s report unveiled a series of austere measures, aiming to balance the council’s books while grappling with a £63.9million savings target. These measures include the introduction of new car parking charges, reviews of community services, and a significant 4.98 per cent hike in council tax. This increase is a legal necessity to ensure a balanced budget, a standard that councils are obliged to meet annually.
In the face of rising costs and growing demand, particularly in the realm of social services for vulnerable youth and adults, councils like Leeds are experiencing severe financial strain. The burden is most evident in areas such as care for looked-after children and those with special educational needs, as well as adult social care. Compounding these pressures is a nationally-agreed pay raise for council staff, that further tightens the financial constraints of the council’s operations.
Despite an infusion of approximately £6.8 million in additional government funding, primarily earmarked for children’s social care placements, the council’s leader, Councillor James Lewis, has stated that this contribution falls short of making a substantial impact. “While we welcome any additional support, the reality is it will regrettably not make much of a real difference given the scale of the situation we are in,” said Councillor Lewis.
Review and Reduction: Leeds City Council’s Savings Measures
To achieve the necessary savings, Leeds City Council’s budget for 2024/25 details £51.9million in new savings, in addition to £12million previously identified. The council’s proposals include a comprehensive list of actions:
- Introduction of car parking charges at several parks including Middleton Park, Roundhay Park, and Golden Acre Park, among others.
- Changes to opening hours for community hubs and libraries.
- Adjusted fees and charges for adult social care.
- Reviews of council care home provisions and fees at community centers.
- Assessments of children’s centers and Little Owls nurseries.
- A policy to keep bulky waste removal charges free for the first collection each year, with charges reintroduced for subsequent collections.
- Plans to close Pudsey Civic Hall and to end the lease at Thwaite Watermill Museum.
- A reduction in council staffing levels by a net 323.1 full-time equivalent posts by the end of the 2024/25 financial year, continuing discussions with trade unions to minimize compulsory redundancies.
Furthermore, the council tax in Leeds, currently the second-lowest among England’s eight core cities, will see an increase amounting to £1.58 per week for a Band D property. The reliance on council tax has markedly increased, projected to constitute 67 per cent of the council’s annual budget for 2024/25, a significant jump from 39.9 per cent in 2013.
The Path Forward Amidst Fiscal Restraints
The financial challenges Leeds City Council faces are not short-term. The budget plans reflect a long-term strategy of savings, with expectations to save £64.6m in 2025/26 and £47.1m in 2026/27. Despite the constraints, the council remains dedicated to the Best City Ambition, striving to maintain Leeds as a city brimming with opportunities, committed to addressing poverty and inequality, and focused on health, economic growth, and sustainability.
This vision relies on the ‘Team Leeds’ approach, which involves collaboration with partners and communities to utilize all available resources effectively. The council’s financial dilemma is further highlighted by an overspend of £39million for the current year. The budget proposals, shaped by discussions and over 1,700 responses from an online public survey, will be debated by senior councillors at an executive board meeting, followed by a full council vote on February 21.
For those interested in detailed discussions of the budget, documents will be available on the council’s website under Council and Democracy (agenda item 13).
The council’s financial prudence and operational efficiency have been acknowledged by the Local Government Association in their peer reviews, though the financial challenges are noted as significant and ongoing. As the council navigates these fiscal waters, its commitment to serving the residents of Leeds remains at the forefront of its budgetary decisions and actions.
For further inquiries, Leeds City Council communications and marketing can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 0113 378 6007.
- Leeds City Council has finalized its budget for 2024/25, which includes austerity measures such as new car parking charges, revised community hub and library hours, increased adult social care fees, and reviews of council care homes and community centers.
- Despite an infusion of additional government funding, the council’s leader admits that the funding is not enough to make a significant impact on the financial strain the council is facing.
- The council’s budget for 2024/25 details £51.9 million in new savings, in addition to £12 million previously identified, and includes measures such as car parking charges at parks, changes to opening hours for community hubs and libraries, adjusted fees and charges for adult social care, and reductions in council staffing levels.
- The council tax in Leeds will see an increase amounting to £1.58 per week for a Band D property, and council tax is projected to constitute 67% of the council’s annual budget for 2024/25.
- The financial challenges Leeds City Council faces are not short-term, with long-term strategies of savings and expectations to save £64.6 million in 2025/26 and £47.1 million in 2026/27.