Summer flooding deepens cash crisis

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COUNCILLORS in Calderdale have become the latest in the region to warn of a worsening financial crisis which they say has been exacerbated by disastrous flooding in the area.

The council’s cabinet will meet next Monday to discuss a number of factors which are putting increasing pressure on its budgets.

They blame the growing costs of caring for the district’s most vulnerable residents, particularly children, and the impact of the recession-hit economy on several of its income streams.

But councillors say the cost of the flooding in the Calder Valley during the summer, which affected 900 households and 250 businesses, has added to pressures.

It is estimated the council will have to spend around £2.6m in response to the flooding, which includes the support given to local businesses and residents to help them get back on their feet.

The council expects to use its reserves to fund most of the exceptional costs.

A major review of how it manages and uses its land and buildings is now under way in an effort to achieve significant savings.

Calderdale Council leader, Labour’s Coun Tim Swift, said: “The cabinet report highlights the hard work that’s being done to manage the council in a situation where we have already made savings of £40m from our budget since 2010 and know that this will increase to over £70m over the next three years.

“We are continuing to handle this effectively, in the face of major pressures such as the growing number of people who need help and support and sudden fluctuations in the number of looked-after children.

“Whilst we have applied to the Government’s Bellwin Scheme for help with the costs caused by the summer flooding, it is disappointing to note that we are likely to receive less than £100,000 and that the bulk of the costs will have to be met from the local council budget.

“We will continue to make representations to the Government over this issue.”