Wakefield Council’s Budget for 2016/17 has been approved
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Wakefield Council's budget for 2016/17 has been approved at a special Budget meeting of the Full Council. There were 46 votes for and eight votes against the proposal and two abstentions.
Savings of £27m will be made in 2016/17. This is on top of the £119m that has already been cut from the Council's budget since 2011.
The scale of the financial challenge facing the Council is huge. The 2015 Spending Review made it clear that there are another four years of savings to identify. The Government has said that by the end of this decade, Wakefield Council will have to save £185m.
Speaking at the meeting, the Leader of Wakefield Council, Cllr Peter Box CBE said: "By 2020 the Conservative Government will have cut Wakefield's funding by 60%.
"Despite being forced into making cuts, we've done our best to protect frontline services and protect the district's most vulnerable residents.
"We've become as efficient and innovative as possible, in some cases leading the way nationally."
Cllr Box added: "In order to avoid making any further savings I'm proposing that we increase Council Tax by 1.99% for the coming year – a move supported by 66% of those who took park in our budget consultation."
Today's vote of approval means that Council Tax will increase by 1.99%. For a Band A property that equates to 29 pence a week.
The Government has also told the Council to raise a precept of 2% in order to deal with the shortfall in Adult Social Care funding. This will raise about £2.1 million - but will still leave the Council with an annual deficit of £4.5 million for funding Adult Social Care. By 2020 that gap will have grown to around £22 million.
During his speech Cllr Box pledged to carry on delivering good quality local services and, where possible, to protect and keep the services that people have told us matter the most to them, despite the unprecedented cuts. He also highlighted that the Council will continue to work with businesses to help grow the local economy and continue to work with local people and local communities.
Cllr Box highlighted that a lot has been achieved despite of the unprecedented level of cuts and that we will continue to do so.
"The fact is that businesses want to work with us and invest in the district. As a result between 2011 and 2013 our economy grew by 8.7% - more than twice the West Yorkshire average of 4.1%," said Cllr Box.
The Conservative party put forward an amendment to the budget, which was defeated.
Cllr Box said: "It was disappointing that at a time when we face £27m cuts in services and when we have an increasing gap of £4.5m a year in adult social care that all the Conservatives can do was put forward was a proposal that included introducing some free car parking."
The meeting is available to watch online at www.wakefield.gov.uk/livestream