Once again, we have had to prepare our annual budget within the limits set by the Government’s deficit reduction plans. Our annual budget is set within the context of the 2015 Spending Review and Autumn Statement, which set out the Government’s plans for spending on public services through to 2019/20. Reductions in public expenditure are expected to continue throughout the current Parliament.
For Leeds, between the 2010/11 and 2015/16 budgets, funding from government reduced by around £180 million. In addition the Council has faced significant cost pressures, particularly within adults’ and children’s social care, as well as reductions in income due to the general economic climate.
Whilst we have responded successfully to these financial challenges, our net budget will reduce by a further £31 million in 2016/17. Our budget strategy sees many areas continuing to reduce budgets, in some cases through significant changes to the way we operate. The strategic framework outlining how we will allocate resources and respond to financial pressures is detailed in the Best Council Plan. We will continue to work with partners across the city and we remain committed to tackling inequalities through building a strong economy, being a compassionate city and being a more efficient and enterprising organisation:
-Over 60% of our expenditure for 2016/17 will be on Adult Social Care and Children’s Services.
-We have taken difficult decisions about the level and quality of services and how they should be targeted towards those with the greatest need. However, we continue to invest in prevention and early intervention, particularly in Adult Social Care and Children’s Services, so that more people can get the support they need at an earlier stage.
-New and different delivery of internal support services will generate savings of £2.9 million in 2016/17.
-We are continuing our restorative practice approach of working with children and families rather than doing things for them, providing high support and high challenge and empowering children and families to make positive decisions about their lives.
-£232,000 is to be provided for a new initiative to tackle domestic violence through a faster and more coordinated response alongside colleagues from other agencies.
-In the city centre we have reduced our office accommodation from 17 to 8 buildings, and numbers will fall further following the refurbishment of Merrion House. Savings of £1.1 million are forecast for 2016/17.
-Staffing levels across the council continue to be reduced, and we are forecasting a reduction of 299 full time equivalent members of staff by 31st March 2017. We will continue to move to becoming a Real Living Wage employer, with a minimum £8.01 per hour rate paid to all staff from April 2016.
-The long term waste strategy for the city is enabling us to deal more effectively with the city’s waste and to deliver savings of £4.7million in 2016/17, including substantial savings from the new Recycling and Energy Recovery facility which opened in 2015/16.
-We continue to work with partners across the city to make the best use of joint resources. We work closely with NHS colleagues to reshape health and social care provision, to meet the challenges of higher life-expectancy and increasingly complex needs and to support people to remain living independently.
-We plan to increase our income from trading activities. Leeds is one of 6 approved Improvement Partners for the Department for Education, and is now developing a model for providing improvement support to other local authorities. The 2016/17 budget assumes £0.5m income for 2016/17.