They say they will have to make savings of £14.3 million in the next financial year alone – equivalent to cutting almost £1 in every £10 of the council’s revenue budget. That will have a ‘harrowing impact’ on services, they admit. To add salt to the wound, council tax is also set to rise by 4.99 per cent. The proposals are detailed in the authority’s draft budget for 2024/25 published this afternoon. The money-saving proposals include: Householders having to pay £46.50 per bin per year for green bins to be emptied. A cut of £300,000 a year over the next two years in the funding contract for Explore York’s library services. Increased parking charges across the city by 30p an hour – and raising the standard all-day charge to £20. A city-wide review of personal care and support – including 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.
READ MORE: York council budget cuts – how they might affect you
Council leader Claire Douglas said today: “We’ve been clear from day one that the budget we inherited after 13 years of central government funding cuts, combined with the depletion of council reserves, meant making some very tough decisions. “My executive colleagues and I are not happy about the need to take these decisions and feel deeply uncomfortable about the harrowing impact of the budgetary position we find the council in. “Unlike other public sector organizations, we have a legal responsibility to set a balanced budget and that’s what we publish today. “I can assure residents we’ll work tirelessly to limit the impact of these service reductions and work closely with our partners to continue delivering our council plan priorities, retaining our focus on equalities, affordability, climate and health”.
But opposition Liberal Democrats today described the budget proposals as a ‘slash and burn budget’ that would hit the least well off. Lib Dem leader Cllr Nigel Ayre said: “Labour’s slash and burn budget is set to be the most austere budget in the council’s history. “We have also had confirmation of another broken election promise from Labour – a council tax hike. “There has been almost no public consultation on the budget proposals, and we will be looking for evidence of an Equalities Impact Assessment having been undertaken for each of the proposed savings. “Residents should be in no doubt that this is a political choice to remove as many services from residents as possible now so that they can blame the Conservative government ahead of the General Election. “This has moved from being a ‘bonfire of vanities‘ to a ‘bonfire of principles‘ with Labour’s cuts set to hit hardest the least well-off.”
The £40 million budget gap in the council’s finances over the next four years was first identified in a report to the authority’s executive in November last year. The budget report unveiled today – which will be considered by executive next month – sets out to begin to deal with that budget gap, by proposing savings totalling £14.3 million. The council says it will be holding further public events to explain the proposals and to allow resident voices to be heard. The next of these will take place on January 29 at West office, and will also be webcast live on the Council’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/cityofyorkcouncil.