More savings needed despite one-off funding from Budget, says North Yorkshire council leader

County Hall in Northallerton.

North Yorkshire County Council will still need to find savings, despite some one-off funding announced in the autumn budget, the authority’s leader has warned.

The council said additional cash for roads and adult social care announced by the Chancellor would help with some immediate pressures.

But Cllr Carl Les, North Yorkshire’s leader, said these one-off payments did not address the fact that for a county like North Yorkshire, the largest geographically, an increase in long-term funding for essential services was “the only way to create sustainability”.

“We still need to make substantial savings and these get harder and harder, it’s like squeezing a stone” – Cllr Carl Les.

The council says that over the decade to 2020 North Yorkshire’s spending power will have reduced by one third.

By the end of this year the council will have saved £156m since 2010 and has plans to save another £30m.

This still leaves a shortfall by 2022 which, in the last six months alone, has increased from £11m to £26m.

“We still need to make substantial savings and these get harder and harder, it’s like squeezing a stone”, Cllr Les added.

“Once we have the funding settlement for North Yorkshire in just a few weeks’ time we will go out into our communities to consult with them about the challenges and about spending priorities.

“It remains a difficult road ahead but we will play our part.”

The council says the county has an increasing numbers of people with complex needs from young to old who need support.

Nearly half the council’s total budget now goes on adult social care and the county has growing numbers of children with special educational needs and disabilities.

North Yorkshire has 5,800 miles of roads to maintain, the largest network in the country. There appears to be no increase in long-term funding to meet these demands.

“This cannot go on without real impact on frontline services and the condition of our transport infrastructure”, said Cllr Les.

“North Yorkshire is a beacon of good practice in many areas, finding ground-breaking ways of delivering highly effective services across many areas with less money.

“We have been rated outstanding by Ofsted for our children and families service; and outcomes for our young people are some of the best in the country; we have found innovative ways of supporting elderly and vulnerable adults, working with communities so they can lead independent and fulfilling lives for as long as possible.

“With community support we have kept our libraries open and developed community transport.”

“One-off cash injections are very welcome but are no replacement for long-term investment in vital services and a new funding formula is required.”

The funding handicap which rural areas continue to face is also exacerbating the pressure on services, according to the authority.

People in North Yorkshire pay almost twice as much council tax in relative terms as those in urban and London boroughs like Westminster and Camden and receive less Government funding, yet the costs tend to be higher.

The council says it continues to push for a fairer government funding deal.