How Leeds council’s 2019/20 budget plans would affect you, your home and public services in the city

Leeds City Council plans to cut another 24m from its budget.
Leeds City Council plans to cut another 24m from its budget.

Households look set to take another financial hit next year as Leeds City Council prepares its budget for 2019/2020.

The authority has tasked itself with finding another £24m worth of savings in the coming financial year, as it tries to make ends meet.

Here's our handy guide as to how much extra you can expect to pay in council tax next year.

Here's our handy guide as to how much extra you can expect to pay in council tax next year.

Among the plans are a 3.99 per cent council tax increase, while 74 full-time equivalent jobs are expected to go in the shake-up.

The council has said it has to make the “difficult” decisions due to cuts in government funding and an increase in cost pressures.

Plans are detailed in a report set to go before members of the council’s decision-making executive board next week.

The authority hopes to raise an extra £16.4m through the council tax increase – with around a quarter of this ring-fenced for adult social care. This would work out as an extra £41.64 per year for a band A property, and £62.47 more for band D.

It is also predicted that the council would see an increase to its net revenue budget of £6m.

However, this would not be enough to plug the gap in the authority’s finances, as costs are expected to rise by £43m while central government has cut its funding by more than £15m.

Of the £24.4m of expected savings, £16m will come from what the council calls “efficiencies”.

The report claims the council is taking “quite a distinctive approach” to efficiencies, which includes stimulating economic growth and “creatively managing demand for its services”.

Among these are investments into early intervention in adult social care and children’s services. The report also lists “ongoing recruitment and retention management”, as well as closer working between different services.

The increased costs faced by the council add up to £43.7m. More than 40 per cent of this is made up of pay inflation for both council (£12m) and commissioned staff (£7.1m). This includes a rise to the council’s minimum wage rate to £9.18 per hour.

Demand in social care is also itemised in the report, with extra looked after children (£1.5m) and adult social care (£1.9m) provision accounting for more than £3m in cost increases.

Inflation, both general (£6.8m) and increases to energy and gas tariffs (£2.9m) make up nearly £10m of the increase.

The authority also expects to spend an extra £2.2m servicing its debts – funding additional and existing borrowing requirements.

The plans are set to go before Leeds City Council’s executive board on Wednesday, December 19. It will then be open for public consultation before final budget plans return to executive board in February.

The plans will finally be debated and voted on at the full council meeting at Civic Hall on Wednesday, February 27.

Empty homes

In order to encourage empty homes in the city to be used, the budget proposes to double the council tax premium on long-term unoccupied properties from April.

Until recently, the authority had charged a 50 per cent council tax premium on properties that were unoccupied for more than two years.

But the council now wants to take advantage of a law which came into effect last month allowing authorities to charge landlords the full amount for properties that have been empty for more than two years.

The law would theoretically allow the council to charge 200 per cent premium for properties empty for more than five years, and a 300 per cent premium for properties empty for more than 10 years.

A final decision on whether to implement this additional

premium will be made by full council in January 2019.

Cost increases

Pay – Leeds City Council – £12m

Pay costs – commissioned services – £7.1m

Employer’s LGPS contribution – £0.9m

Fall-out of capitalised pension costs (- £1.1m)

General inflation – £6.8m

Electricity and gas tariff inflation – £2.9m

Adult Social Care demand – £1.9m

Looked after children demand – £1.5m

Other demand – £0.4m

Transforming Care Programme – £2m

Income pressures (including academisation) – £1.6m

Leeds 2023 – £1.5m

Migration to Microsoft Cloud – £0.8m

Housing Benefit Overpayment income – £0.4m

West Yorkshire Regional Adoption – £0.4m

Managed Approach – £0.2m

Hostile Vehicle Mitigation Scheme – £0.1m

Other pressures – £2m

Debt – external interest / Minimum Revenue Provision – £2.2m

Total Increases £43.7m

Cuts by department:

Adults and health (including OAPs services) – £11.69m

Children and families (including schools and looked after children) – £1.8m

City Development (including regeneration and transport) – £2.06m

Communities and Environment (including bin collections and parks) – £2.28m

Resources and Housing (including council housing and council-owned buildings) – £5.04m

Strategic and central – £1.5m

Total cuts: £24.4m