Authority announces council tax hike BOMBSHELL weeks before Christmas

Coun Judith Blake.
Coun Judith Blake.

Families face a council tax hike of almost four per cent as cash-strapped Leeds City Council scrambles to make huge budget savings.

The council says it needs to save £75.3m by 2018 – and slash up to 800 jobs – due to a combination of reduced Government funding and pressures on services.

Half of the proposed 2017-18 budget rise in council tax, two per cent, will come from the Government’s extra adult social care levy. Council bosses have also opted to increase council tax on top of that levy by the maximum of 1.99 per cent, bringing the total rise to 3.99 per cent.

The announcement comes just three weeks before Christmas, as the authority says up to £25m of its core Government funding will be cut next year.

Around 800 jobs at the council will also be axed, the authority says, bringing the total roles slashed since 2010 to more than 3,000.

It said it would work with unions “as far as possible” to reduce the number of compulsory redundancies and redeploy staff where possible.

Coun Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Leeds has undoubtedly become a more efficient, enterprising and forward thinking council since 2010, which means we have been able to protect many council services effectively. “However the fact demand for services continues to grow significantly places a huge amount of pressure on what is now a much reduced budget.

“This means it’s becoming very difficult for council services to address the severe challenges caused by poverty in some of the more deprived areas of the city.”

The Government has allowed councils to levy an extra two per cent on council tax for the second year in-a-row to collect cash for adult social care services.

The levy was introduced to help local authorities plug the gap in services for the rising numbers of elderly residents.

Coun Blake added: “We will continue to prioritise the money the council does have in supporting the most vulnerable in the city. But without a radical change in the national approach to funding local authorities the significant impact needed on deep-rooted problems associated with inner city poverty is now very hard indeed to deliver.”

The 2017-18 budget proposals will be presented to the council’s Executive Board for consideration on December 14, before public consultation begin.

A final decision will be made on the budget on February 22.