The Leader tabled the Labour Group’s amendments to Document “AZ”. She stated that this was the 9th year of austerity and that £13m would have to be taken out of the budget in 2019/20 and £20m in 2020/21. She added that the budget gap in year 1 was being met using reserves and that there would be a funding gap of £28m in year 2. She went on to say that Councils throughout the Country had said that the government need to address the issue of funding local services in the next spending review. She stressed that since 2011, Bradford had to find £262m of budget cuts and that it would be half the size in 2010 than it was in 2010. She illustrated the level of cuts and the speed with which they were being implemented by stating that in 2013-14 the authority had received £183m in government funding and this would be nil in 2020. She added that the Local Government Association had identified a £2billion funding gap in children’s social services nationally. She added that relying on Council Tax was not sufficient and pointed out that a 1% rise in Council Tax in Bradford would raise £1.9m but a 1% rise in Surrey would amount to £7m.
The Leader reported that the issue that has raised the most representations in the consultation was Welfare Advice. She added that it was being proposed to add £500,000 to welfare advice to support the most venerable. She reported that £500,000 had been added to street cleansing and that changes were being made in Children’s Social Care to address the issues raised in the recent OFSTED inspection. She urged the Government to support the authority so that the District would prosper and stressed that Government would continue to be lobbied on this issue.
The Children and Families Portfolio Holder reported that a new one-off investment of £6.5m would be made into a Children’s Services fund in addition to the £5.5m on going investment into children’s social care, of which £1.2m was being released immediately for Social Worker recruitment. He stated the commitment to the young people of the district to give them the best start.
The Education, Employment and Skills Portfolio Holder referred to the additional investment in Children’s Social Care which would allow resources to be redirected to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. He acknowledged the pressures on the High Needs Block and thanked the Schools forum for the work they did with resources that reduced every year.
The Healthy People and Places Portfolio Holder noted that better and more personalised plans were being produced in Adult Social Care. She commented that the Adult Social Care Green Paper had been awaited since 2017 and that a long term sustainable plan was needed from Government to support adults in the District.
The Neighbourhoods and Community Safety Portfolio Holder stressed that welfare advice was a vital service and referred to the introduction of Universal Credit and cuts in government funding that were leaving people in poverty. He stated that work was being undertaken on a new model of delivery of welfare advice.
The Healthy People and Places Portfolio Holder recognised the benefits that street cleansing brought to the District and added that there would be an on going investment of £500,000 into the service. She added that 20 front line staff were being recruited. Partnerships would be created with the Warden Service and links encouraged with schools and Keep Britain Tidy. Work would be undertaken to encourage takeaways to litter pick in their environment.
The Regeneration, Planning and Transport Portfolio Holder referred to the progress in the growth agenda. He highlighted the following: that house building was at a 10 year high with a resultant increase in Council Tax and Business Rates; the Hard Ings scheme in Keighley; the building of New College; Bradford Live was on site in the former Odeon building; partnership work was progressing; Business Development Zones were established and the markets redevelopment including the creation of a new public square. He thanked partners in delivering the growth agenda.
The Leader thanked the Director of Finance and all officers involved in the budget process. She noted that Bradford’s Council Tax was still the lowest in West Yorkshire and acknowledged how difficult it was for residents of the District to pay the Council Tax increase.