Securing the Council's financial position in a time of uncertainty is the priority for the budget for 2022/23, which was agreed at Budget Council on Monday 28 February 2022.
Cllr Tim Swift, Calderdale Council's Leader said:
This is a robust, balanced and sustainable budget which will ensure that we are in a sound financial position when facing the challenges of the year ahead.
Although, thankfully, the immediate harm from COVID-19 is reducing we continue to experience the impact from the past two years of the pandemic. Health and Children's Services are still responding to an increase in demand and this is likely to continue for some time. Social care now accounts for over two-thirds of all Council spending.
In the meantime, it is still unclear when Council income, such as from leisure services or parking will return to pre-pandemic levels. We are also experiencing inflationary pressures from the rising cost of living. This includes energy/fuel costs in our buildings, street lighting and vehicles.
The one-year settlement from central Government means that we have continuing uncertainty about our future funding, having already experienced repeated and persistent reductions in our financial support from central Government over the last 12 years.
The most important responsibility placed on the Council is to provide care, support and community services to the most vulnerable children and adults to enable them to live a larger life.
The budget includes a Council Tax increase of 1.99% with an additional 1% Social Care Precept to help fund and protect social care services to vulnerable adults and children.
The Council will continue its three-year commitment to a huge increase in adult social care spending, increasing gross spending from £100 million in the current year to more than £110 million by 2024/25.
The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of the often low-paid carers who provide this essential support. The budget includes funding to increase the wages of social care staff with the Council's providers in line with the increase in the National Living Wage.
When combined with funding through the Integrated Care System and the Government grant, this will allow the Council to:
- Bring forward the increase from 1st April 2022;
- and to implement bonus payments to help recruit and retain these essential workers. In recognition of their vital role throughout the pandemic. This will also help protect the vulnerable social care market.
Sadly, the pandemic has seen a dramatic increase in the number of families who need extra help. The Council will continue to support the 'Never Hungry Again' campaign which mobilises the community to tackle holiday hunger and will maintain the Council Tax Relief Scheme at its existing level.
Responding to the climate emergency remains a priority for the Cabinet and the £1 million Climate Emergency Fund, administered jointly with the Community Foundation for Calderdale (CFFC) will continue to invest in measures to tackle climate change.
Further schemes will be brought forward during the course of the next financial year, bringing further energy efficiency improvements. Calderdale aims to be carbon neutral by 2038, with significant progress by 2030.
Initial funding has been allocated within the Council's budget to create a small team to help develop and identify ways of sourcing investment in North Halifax, which has some of the greatest inequalities within the borough.
Together with local communities and shaped by existing feedback from local people about their priorities for recovery this will lead to the development of a Strategic Plan for North Halifax.
A number of major improvement schemes are already underway or planned for the area, with significant investment in projects including improvements at Beechwood Road Library and major new schemes to improve walking and cycling. These schemes will be brought together as one coherent programme of work.
In the next financial year, the Council will also increase investment into the new leisure centre and swimming pool in Halifax and into the planning service.
Further investment in waste collection will create a more competitive offer for drivers. This will make the waste and recycling service more reliable.
You can read about the approved budget, along with the detail behind the proposals in the following document:
Councillor Tim Swift. Leader, Calderdale Council.