Wakefield Council agrees to cut £27m from budget

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Wakefield Council has agreed to slash £27m from public services, as it faces another year of funding cuts.

Councillors voted through the 2016/17 budget proposals, at a full council meeting today, by 46 to seven.

Community centres could face closure and more than 200 council staff could lose their jobs under the cost-cutting plans.

The council also plans to save around £2m through the commercialisation of services.

And it hopes to make further savings by reviewing library provision, car parking charges and home to school transport as well as increasing charges to waste collection and bereavement services.

Deputy council leader Coun Denise Jeffery told the meeting: “So far we have done our best to protect frontline services as much as possible from the impact of the cuts and we have prioritised our services for our most vulnerable people and those in need.

“But the scale of the funding cuts means tough decisions and an inevitability that we must make some significant changes to our services.”

The council has already cut £119m from its budget since 2011, due to “unprecedented cuts” to its government funding.

And it faces another four years of making savings.

Wakefield Council leader Coun Peter Box said: “Despite being forced into making cuts, we’ve done our best to protect frontline services and protect the district’s most vulnerable residents.

“We’ve become as efficient and innovative as possible, in some cases leading the way nationally.

“We’ve become a smaller organisation and over the past five years the number of full time posts has been reduced by well over 1,000, almost all on a voluntary basis.

“We have coped remarkably well but there’s no getting away from the fact that services have been badly affected.”

Councillors agreed a council tax rise of 1.99 per cent, plus an additional two per cent precept to help address the growing costs of adult social care.

But Coun Box said the precept income was just a “plaster over a gaping wound” and would still leave an annual social care deficit of around £4.5m.

A Conservative amendment to the budget, which recommended abolishing the deputy mayor position and cutting councillors’ special responsibility allowances by 50 per cent, was rejected by councillors.