North Yorkshire County Council to warn Government of its “uncertain and difficult” financial position

Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council.

North Yorkshire County Council, which is facing having to make more than £40m of savings over the next three years, is set to present its plight to a Treasury minister who has insisted the Government is “not making cuts to local authorities”.

The authority, which has prided itself on its response to the demands of austerity, is set to tell the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss that the authority’s long-term financial position is “uncertain and difficult”.

The council’s leader Councillor Carl Les, who is set to meet Ms Truss during a visit to Yorkshire on Friday, said he would tell the minister that it had insufficient funding to meet rising demand for for a range of social care services and for children with special educational needs.

An officer’s report to the authority’s executive next week states: “Demand now features as a greater financial challenge than the reductions in government funding.

“The council is therefore no longer in a position where it merely needs to respond to reducing levels of funding; it now faces the prospect of sizeable and permanent increases in demand which will threaten the financial sustainability of the council unless appropriate medium term measures are taken.”

Before April, the council will have made £157.4m of savings since 2011, but it is estimated a further £40.3m will be needed in th next three years for the authority to balance its books.

The total cuts of £197.7m would see the council’s spending power reduced by about 40 per cent.

The report states while savings proposals of £26.3m have been identified from 2019/20 to 2021/22, services from which to cut £14m will need to be addressed in future years.

This is despite the council using £5.3m of reserves to shore up its budget next year and proposing a total council tax increase of 4.99 per cent, resulting in a Band D council tax level of £1,311 for the council in 2019/20.

Other papers being presented to the executive state meeting the total volume of cuts will be “extremely challenging to achieve”.

Cllr Les said he would underline concerns over escalating demands on council services.

He said: “I am going to say we are containing service delivery at the margins, and we are somewhat better at doing it than we were before, but the funding we have is not enough to meet the growing demands.”

The meeting comes just three months after Ms Truss stated: “We are not making cuts to local authorities. What we have done is give them more revenue raising powers so that decisions can be taken locally. It’s really important that local councillors are responsible for the decisions they make.”

The statement followed Labour analysis finding councils in the North of England had been hit disproportionately hard by austerity measures since 2010.

The study found the spending power of local authorities in the North was on course to fall by more than one-quarter between 2010/11 and 2019/20, while, councils in the South have around 20 per cent less to spend.

1 Comment

  1. I think it’s time our council started thinning those in their own offices instead of automatically expecting council tax payers to fill their never ending fiscal abyss!!! Let’s start at the top. Bring in an independent assessor and look at EVERY job and get rid of the dead wood…those jobs that are not cost effective or absolutely necessary – that would be a start…then get rid of unnecessary spending, such as bike races – before hiking up council tax. I understand that an ageing population/special education, etc, is placing a heavy burden on our council and that finding the money for such things is a daunting task but, hiking up council tax while cutting down on services causes some residents financial hardships themselves! Where does our council get the idea that residents can afford to pay this? This ‘small’ increase, with the threat of more regular increases, will affect families in a negative way. Some workers (the working poor) barely get enough income as it is, and since the average wage (discounting those under 22) has only gone up by 3.1% – the highest in 10 years. The ‘average’ weekly wage amounting to £495, according to government statistics (I would like to see the statistics as I think that more people with high paying jobs were counted than those on low incomes to come up with that amount being the average wage!). Not to mention the ridiculous amounts that private rents have been allowed to go up in this area (not everyone is lucky enough to be in government housing). 4.99% council tax increase in one hit is disgusting – but, as the council makes criminals of those who can’t afford the increases, they will have to find
    it from, well, somewhere!!!

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