2024 will be a tough year for the city but I’m confident that between our hope and ambition for York and our communities’ resilience, we can get through it. It’s no secret that the council is facing significant financial constraints, bringing unprecedented challenges in the history of City of York Council. We’ve been very open and honest that there can be no more plugging gaps with one-off funds; the gap between income and expenditure is simply too great for that. We need to make more significant changes to how services are delivered, and to the way the Council is organised. Making difficult decisions about service cuts is not easy. But it’s important we are honest and transparent about what we’re facing.
The budget situation is dire, but we must not allow it to curtail the hope and ambition that we have for York, ambition we know is shared by residents. We must find different ways of doing things and bring the entire city together to work to achieve those ambitions. The decisions required will be difficult at times because there’s always more we want to do. But one of the impacts of the deepening cost-of-living crisis is to push more and more households into a place where they are no longer ‘just managing,’ but are in fact in crisis.
In such a time of crisis it is vital that we do not ignore those whose voices we can often struggle to hear. In York we have a large cohort of residents who are well able to advocate for themselves and we value that. We also have residents who, for whatever reason, cannot. This is why our focus on Human Rights and Equalities is so important. We must ensure that decisions are made based on fairness and inclusion, and that we genuinely open ourselves up to scrutiny and challenge to ensure we’re not falling into the traps of stereotyping or exclusion.
2024 will see the council work towards regaining the Excellent standard in the Local Government Association Equalities Framework – providing the challenge we need to ensure we are embedding Equality throughout everything the Council does. We will be working across Executive to repair and rebuild relationships with marginalised communities, and we’ll be relaunching the Human Rights and Equalities Board to give us the space to truly open ourselves up to challenge from equalities experts. I am proud to be part of an administration that is doing the right thing despite the serious challenges we face, and I look forward to a year where our hope and ambition will continue to sustain us during difficult times.