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2023/24 Council Budget: Proposals for investment in York’s communities, protecting the vulnerable and combating cost of living crisis
City of York Council has today published its draft Budget proposals for 2023/24, which are set to be discussed at a public meeting next week.
The proposals have been prepared following a public consultation with the city’s residents and considering the current financial challenges that are seeing Councils across the country face unprecedented pressures, with rising energy, fuel and food prices, and inflation putting significant pressure on service delivery.
The extent of the current cost-of-living crisis is compounded by the impact of the pandemic, record inflation and increasing demand for services, which has left the Council facing financial pressures totalling c£8m. Analysis from the Local Government Association suggests that Councils in England are facing additional cost pressures of £2.4 billion in 2022/23 since budgets were set in Autumn last year. In 2023/24 the forecast budget gap is £3.4 billion, rising to £4.5 billion in 2024/25.
City of York also ranks as one of the lowest spending against other local authorities, which means the Council receives significantly less national funding compared to other councils. In 2021/22, core spending power in York sat at £706 per head, – the second lowest in the country compared to councils such as Kensington and Chelsea who receive £1,305 per head. If York were to receive even the average amount of spend, the city would benefit from an extra £16.5m each year.
Against this challenging national backdrop, the budget plans underline City of York Council’s ongoing commitment to funding social care and other vital frontline services, supporting communities particularly through the cost of living crisis, continuing to boost and grow York’s economy, and taking action to address climate change.
A total of £19m in additional revenue funding will be invested in the Council’s 2023/24 budget to maintain and protect key services. This includes adult social care and children’s services – with additional £5 million investment.
To enable this investment and to secure financial stability, City of York Council will deliver savings of over £5m with a further £2.7m being delivered in 2024/25, to ensure that the Council is prepared to respond to future financial challenges and can continue to deliver crucial services to residents and businesses.
The budget proposals are also set to continue the Council’s transformational £480 million Capital Programme, to drive regeneration and continue the city’s economic recovery by delivering major schemes, including York Central, Station Frontage, road improvements, carbon reduction schemes, school upgrades and affordable housing delivery.
Following the increase in the Council tax flexibility by the Government, City of York Council has proposed a basic council tax increase of 2.99 % in 2023/24, in order to ensure crucial services can continue to be delivered. In addition, an increase of 2% in line with the government’s social care precept is also proposed, which will provide critical financial support for increasing adult social care responsibilities. This would still leave the average York council tax bill over £100 cheaper for residents each year compared to the national average.
Executive member for finance and performance, Councillor Nigel Ayre, commented:
“The impacts of the pandemic, rising costs and increasing demand for services, as well as the Government’s failure to provide what councils need to respond to these challenges, has meant that, as other councils across the country, we are left facing tough decisions.
“Although thanks to prudent financial management of the Council’s finances over the last few years, we are in a better position compared to many other Councils that are facing significantly worse financial troubles.
“The recent national crises are compounded by the ongoing pressures in meeting the demands of growing social care responsibilities and providing the support and services that our communities need now more than ever.
“This budget looks to stabilise our financial position in what is an extremely uncertain and turbulent financial time, whilst continuing to provide essential services to our local communities. Despite the national financial challenges we are increasing spending on adult social care to support the most vulnerable, investing to support children and young people, protecting frontline services and supporting those facing most dire financial difficulties during this cost of living crisis.”
In addition to the revenue investment proposed, financial investment totalling £1m will be targeted to support local communities, including:
- £250k to provide additional support to financially vulnerable residents facing the current Cost of Living Crisis
- £250k to allow local wards to invest directly in improvements to local communities, form installing new benches to repairing local roads
- £150k to improve community safety, tackling anti-social behaviour hotspots, including through funding of specialist youth support workers
- £100k to support recovery of residents facing substance misuse problems
- £100k to support critical services that promote better mental health and wellbeing and provide support to those residents with autism
- £100k to incentivise the use of public transport locally to ensure the local bus network can be maintained
- £50k to continue existing winter maintenance of key cycle and pedestrian routes
The budget proposals for 2023/24 will be presented to the Executive Member for Finance and Performance on 12th January, the Council Executive on 9th of February and then debated at Full Council on the 23rd February.
Further details and the full budget proposals can be viewed on the City of York Council website – https://www.york.gov.uk/