Families will feel the worst of budget cuts

Coun Peter Box.
Coun Peter Box.
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Families will bear the brunt of Wakefield Council cuts after plans to increase council tax by five per cent were approved this week.

Each household will face an increase in costs despite local services being scrapped or reduced, as the authority aims to make savings of £15.4m.

Coun Nadeem Ahmed.

Coun Nadeem Ahmed.

Its budget will see the number of children’s play areas cut, a dedicated fly-tipping clear up team axed and the frequency of street cleaning reduced.

People will have to fork out for residential permits to park outside their own homes and schools and academies will have to cover the costs of crossing patrols.

One hundred council jobs will also be axed.

Coun Nadeem Ahmed, leader of the Wakefield Conservatives, criticised the budget, which was passed at a meeting of full council on Tuesday.

He said: “The council tax rise is putting a burden on residents, on families, on some of the most vulnerable people in society. It makes me really angry.

“The increase over the year for many is the equivalent to a trolley of shopping, a gas bill or a treat out.

“These are the things that people are sacrificing and not for much return.”

Council tax rates will rise by 1.99 per cent as well as a three per cent precept to contribute to the rising costs of adult social care. The increase will generate around £4.8m.

But frontline and essential services to protect the district’s most vulnerable residents will still take a hit.

Elderly people will be supported to stay in their own houses instead of making use of residential homes, under the cost-cutting measures.

And help for children and families will undergo restructuring, whilst £500k will be saved through a review of services for children in care.

Coun Ahmed said: “We are saying to people that they need to pay more and yet services are being cut.”

Leader of the Labour-run authority Coun Peter Box agreed, but said the council had been left with no option but to reduce services.

He said: “Putting council tax up by 4.99 per cent is going to have an impact on people and at the same time, we are taking away some services. But we don’t have a choice.”

He added: “We are, without doubt, the most efficient, innovative and enterprising we have ever been.

“Whilst we are committed to continue with this, we have now reached a point where, with such a significantly reduced budget, our services are under threat. The majority are being reduced and some are stopping all together.”

Councillors voted by 46 to seven to approve the budget. Three members abstained.