Wakefield Council’s Cabinet approves two-year budget which would cut jobs and raise council tax to save £46m

10th Febuary 2011.'Wakefield Town Hall'Picture: MATTHEW PAGE
10th Febuary 2011.'Wakefield Town Hall'Picture: MATTHEW PAGE

Wakefield Council bosses have approved a two-year budget which will cut jobs and raise council tax to save £46m.

Around 120 jobs will be axed, mostly through voluntary redundancies, and council tax will increase by 1.45 per cent.

It means people in Band D will pay an extra 31p per week and Band C an extra 27p, if the plans are given final approval at a meeting of full council on Wednesday, February 27.

Council leader Coun Peter Box said cuts were “starting to bite”.

He added: “The figures speak for themselves and indicate the serious financial position that we are in.

“Things are getting really tough now, with the cuts affecting direct services more and more every year.

“But I want to assure residents that we are doing whatever we can to protect services and vulnerable people.”

Jobs will be cut from environmental health, accountancy, internal auditing and committee services, as well as other departments.

And the council plans to save £5m on its adult social care budget by cutting out more complex and expensive care packages and getting as many people as possible treated at home instead of at hospital.

The role of children’s centres will also be reviewed to help save £750,000, and a corporate director of children and young people will be introduced to replace the former role of director of family services.

But the council said safeguarding and the safety of children in their care will not be affected by the cuts.

The number of placements in residential homes will also be cut and people will be offered more help in their own homes instead.

Crematoria in Wakefield and Pontefract could be leased out on a long-term basis to save £8m.

And funding for Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and money spent on tackling environmental crime such as fly-tipping would be slashed by £400,000.

The council said it hoped the cuts would not result in fewer PCSOs on the streets.

By closing libraries the council has already saved £300,000, and they can save a further £170,000 by cutting arts and events funding.

The council will try to attract new customers to its trade services such as cleaning and catering to raise £4m.

And a policy whereby equipment and services are bought at fixed prices, not affected by inflation, will raise another £8.8m over the next two years.

Despite the cuts, the council will invest £12.6m in schools, £10.5m in regeneration schemes, £10.9m in highways and transport, and £9.4m in family services this year. It also said it will bring 150 empty homes back into use each year.

The report warned that cuts could bite even harder in the council’s next budget.

Some of the savings to be made during the next two years, including the new waste private finance initiative (PFI) and the potential leasing of crematoria, would be one-off savings.

It will be faced with a deficit of nearly £30m in 2015–16, and another £29m by 2018, without being able to call upon these savings.

The £790m waste contract, which was signed with a consortium of private firms including Babcock Southern Holdings and Shanks Group plc last month, will result in new waste recycling sites being built at Denby Dale Road, South Kirkby and Glasshoughton.