Wakefield Council’s £38m cuts edge nearer

Wakefield Council is expected to agree to �38m worth of funding to public services.
Wakefield Council is expected to agree to �38m worth of funding to public services.

Wakefield Council is expected to rubber stamp plans to slash jobs and cut £38m worth of funding to public services at a meeting next month.

Its cabinet agreed to send a budget report, which council chief executive Joanne Roney described as the ‘toughest she had ever drawn up, to a full council meeting on March 2.

The report proposes cuts of £20m from the adult care budget and £5m from services for children and young people.

Up to another 100 jobs are expected to be lost during the next year - on top of the 1,400 predicted in last year’s budget.

So far 1,000 staff have already lost jobs as part of the proposals.

Council leader Peter Box said the council was no longer able to protect frontline services, including adult and early years services, as the central government funding cuts had now ‘crossed the line between efficiency savings and cuts.’

Also as part of the budget a rise of just under two per cent in council tax is proposed.

It had previously been frozen in 2011/12 and 2012/13, which Coun Box said had cost the council £12m.

Coun Box said: “It’s going to be tremendously difficult over the next year. I think people are now going to notice the effect on services.

“In the past we have tried to make sure we are efficient and we have tried to minimise the effect on frontline services because people rely on them day in, day out.

“But the point has been reached where people will now see their services impacted.”

The report also recommends the closure of Woolley Hall, in Wakefield which will save the council £200,000 and further work with the private sector on building and facility services to try and save £2m.

Coun Box added: “If we were to carry on spending as we are by 2018/19, 104 per cent of our budget would be spent on adult care and children’s services which would effectively mean the council would be bankrupt.

“Nothing else would be done - there would be no money for anything else. No bins would be collected, no money would be invested in our schools and there would be no investment into economic development. That is the reality of these cuts.”

Coun Box said they are facing cuts of more than £100m by 2020.

He added: “We are not by any means an authority for scaremongering but I hope people realise the severity of the situation we face.”

The budget would also see £57m spent on the district’s roads and street lighting as well as £44m spent on schools.