By KLTV Newsdesk –
Kirklees Council’s investment plans for the next financial year have been approved – it has been announced.
The Council says the new Budget focuses on tackling inequalities and investing in places, children and climate change in the borough’s recovery from COVID-19.
However, as a result of the new budget, residents in certain properties will see a further increase in Council Tax.
The Budget for 2021/22 was approved by Full Council on 10 February 2021.
How will the budget be used?
It aims to support the whole borough to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and provide support to tackle inequalities within communities highlighted during the crisis.
The Council’s financial plans will invest over £319million in local services in the next financial year.
£650million will be devoted to capital infrastructure improvements across the borough over the next five years.
The focus remains on what the council has outlined as it’s three priority areas: investing in places, outstanding children’s services, and tackling the climate emergency.
Infrastructure and Housing
The approved Budget will make over £650million available to deliver capital infrastructure improvements helping to regenerate all places across the whole borough over the next five years.
A further £180million will be used for housing investment over the same period.
The Council says Children’s Services in Kirklees are on a journey of improvement and they will continue to invest in this area, with the aim of becoming ‘Outstanding’.
£78million will be invested over the next financial year to support this.
£7.9million is being committed over the next year to tackle climate issues in the borough.
Over the next five years, the Council says they will be investing more than £47million.
Funding is being committed to support tree-planting, electric charging points, the creation of a Huddersfield Heat Network, air quality, and more.
The full details of the 2021/22 budget can be found on Kirklees Council’s website.
Adult Social Care & Council Tax Increases
This year the council are also investing £115million in adult social care services.
The Government recently enabled councils to increase Council Tax by three per cent for the 2021/22 financial year to combat the growing demand for such services.
The council’s budget for recovery also means a basic increase in Council Tax of 1.99 per cent.
The total 4.99 per cent increase in Council Tax means a £1 per week increase in bills for residents living in a Band A property and £1.50 per week for Band D homes.
‘Invest where the greatest need is’
Councillor Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council, said: “Whilst we’re still deep in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the rollout of the vaccine gives us hope and we need to have one eye firmly on not just how we recover, but how we come back even stronger.
“Managing this crisis is difficult but the recovery will be even more challenging; it’s important that we set a budget that focuses on how we can invest where the greatest need is and how we continue to invest in our future.
“People in Kirklees deserve a brighter future, they deserve a council bold enough to invest in a recovery that benefits everyone and leaves absolutely nobody behind.
“The priorities we highlighted last year – investing in places, children and climate change – are now more important than ever and our commitment to them has only increased.
“There has never been a more important time to support everyone in Kirklees to fulfil their potential and to live a happy and healthy life.
“The pandemic has bluntly exposed inequalities that have existed in our society for a long time and we have an opportunity to begin to put that right.
“This is a Budget that’s bigger than numbers – it’s about values.
“This is our plan to build a Kirklees where everyone has a fair chance in life and that’s something worth investing in.”
‘Funding Crisis in Adult Social Care’
Speaking on the 4.99 per cent increase in Council Tax this year, Councillor Pandor said: “There’s a funding crisis in adult social care and these vulnerable people need and deserve our support more than ever.
“The pace and change in demand is increasing at a much faster rate than we expected and the pandemic has highlighted more challenges.
“The additional funding will help but it’s nowhere near the actual amount we need to ensure we provide our growing elderly population with the service they deserve in retirement
Cllr Pandor added that the Council Tax is being raised to bridge the funding gap, as there is no other option.
Cuts to direct government funding have left local councils with few alternatives.
He said: “However, I’m urging Government to give us a sustainable, long-term solution that our vulnerable and elderly people need and deserve.
“Since 2010 we have lost 60 per cent of direct Government funding and we have been forced to rely more and more on raising Council Tax.
“This is something the Local Government Association continues to highlight and is pressing the Government to develop a long-term funding strategy and to publish its green paper on the future of caring for our growing elderly adult population.
“This will give us an additional £5.6million to support our most vulnerable, whilst continuing to invest in making Kirklees an even better place to live, work and invest.
“The last thing we want to do after the difficulties the last 12 months has thrown at us is to raise Council Tax, but we sadly have no other option.”