The aim is to save £14.3m next year as the authority attempts to get on top of a projected £40million budget black hole over the next four years. The cuts will come on top of a proposed 4.99 per cent increase in council tax for 2024/5. The four key savings proposals identified so far are: Under the proposals outlined in the budget document that will go to executive members for approval next month, there is a plan for householders to pay a £46.50 per bin per year ‘subscription service’ for green bins to be emptied. The council is considering whether to offer a 50 per cent discount for residents who may struggle to afford the service. Cllr Jenny Kent, the joint executive member for environment and climate emergency, said: “Ten years ago less than a third of councils charged for garden waste collection, but as central government has gradually removed local government funding, this has increased to around 70 per cent. “Put bluntly, this non-statutory service costs £1.75m per year and we now can’t afford to run it for free.” A cut of £300,000 in the funding contract for Explore York’s library services is being proposed in each of the next two years. The council contracts out York’s library service to Explore – an independently-run mutual. Any changes in the agreed contractual funding for York’s library services would, therefore, have to be agreed with Explore bosses. But Cllr Jo Coles, the executive member for health, wellbeing and adult social care, said: “We are rightly proud of our brilliant libraries service but until this financial year, York Explore has not had any of the budget cuts affecting other parts of the council. “There has also been significant capital investment of £7.7m into library buildings since 2019. It’s important we are fair in how we make planned reductions in funding. “We are committed to working with York Explore, their staff and volunteers, to increase their income from their wonderful cafes, events and from other funding sources such as grants to mitigate against the budget reductions we are being forced to make.” The plan is to increase parking charges across the city by 30p an hour – and to raise the standard all-day charge in city car parks to £20. These two measures alone would raise an extra £770,000 a year, the council says. The measures proposed include cutting the council’s own home care service, and instead commissioning this externally. The council also proposes to stop providing weekend social work cover at York Hospital, and to review other services offered in partnership with the NHS and with voluntary and community services. The council also says it will be able to save £500,000 next year by releasing funding previously set aside to cover increased costs in Independent Living that is not being used. Cllr Coles said: “Funding for Adult Social Care hasn’t kept pace with increasing demand across the city, so we also have to look carefully at how we can ensure that we provide the best possible support for York’s residents and their carers. “We will also review council services, including those we provide in partnership with the NHS, and community and voluntary services. “These are hard decisions, given the valuable person-centred support these services provide, but in undertaking this review we intend to make sure that these services have the maximum impact in supporting people and maintaining independence”. York’s Liberal Democrat opposition leader Cllr Nigel Ayre has described the proposals as a ‘slash and burn budget’ that will hit the least well off the hardest. But Cllr Katie Lomas, the authority’s Labour executive member for finance, said the proposed cuts were essential to ensure the council could ‘stay afloat through robust financial management.’ She said: “Every year we see the increasing impact of Government funding reductions on local councils, pushing more and more closer to the brink. “York is currently operating on a budget around £40m below what it should be. Our historically low funding base means we are forced to make deeper cuts than other comparable councils. “We came into office to deliver our priorities and to achieve that, we first need to ensure the council stays afloat through robust financial management, clear priorities and a focus on cost-control. “High inflation, increasing demand for high-cost services the council must legally deliver, national funding reductions and restrictions on income all combine to leave us having to remove almost 10 per cent of the council’s budget. “The reality is the Government has chosen to shrink councils and what they can deliver and to a large extent, local decisions makers are left to manage those national decisions. As each year passes this process will just get harder and harder.” While the council budget is to be cut by £14.3 million overall, however, there will be areas where spending increases. These include: Hostile Vehicle Mitigation – £200k to manage the city centre barriers to enable blue badge access. An extra £50k to fund equalities work within the council. Free School Meals – £100k set aside to continue the pilot of allowing free school lunches at Westfield primary school. £100k to fund cycle path clearing. Health and Adult social care – an extra £4m to cover contractual price increases and demographic pressures. Children’s Services – £3.8m to cover contractual price increases and demographic pressures. Pay and Pension costs – £5.2m to cover anticipated inflation in pay and pension costs in 2024/25. This will cover anticipated pay inflation.
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