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NEWS ROUNDUP: Council budget and Leeds Festival headliners

 

Leeds City Council has put forward its annual budget proposals to achieve the estimated £65.4million it needs to save in the next financial year.

With the city responding and adapting to changes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, costs and demand pressures continue to rise especially in services providing care for vulnerable children, young people and adults in Leeds as well as within services responsible for the collection and disposal of the city’s waste.

The 2022/23 budget proposals, to be discussed by the council’s executive board next Wednesday at Civic Hall before being consulted on over the coming weeks, include a proposed council tax increase of 1.99 per cent for core council tax and one per cent which the government requires be dedicated for adult social care funding.

In order to submit a balanced budget to full council for approval in February, the council has been required to address an estimated £65.4m budget gap. All areas of the council continue to look for efficiencies and new ways of working in order to deliver services as effectively as possible in the face of the ongoing financial challenge.

After taking account of these previously identified changes as well additional funding, joint investment through working with partners and the use of reserves, £20.8m savings remained for the target to be achieved. Additional efficiencies and service reviews put forward for consideration in September and this month if approved and realised would deliver the total required level of savings.

The council remains committed to protecting frontline services supporting the most vulnerable residents, with over 60 per cent of the budget continuing to be allocated to health, adults and children’s social care.

The proposed annual budget for the forthcoming financial year 2022/23 needs to be seen in the context of the financial challenge the council has faced since 2010. Since then the council’s annual core settlement funding from the government has reduced by £263m (or 60 per cent), and it also follows on from the requirement to deliver £56.1m of savings in the current financial year. Further savings are also expected to be needed in 2023/24 and 2024/25.

The figures in the budget proposals will be finalised following the government’s local government settlement, which is expected later this month.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor James Lewis said:

“As the figures clearly show, we are facing another very challenging year ahead in Leeds, especially with the increasing pressure on local residents through council tax needing to be stretched to cover more services, especially those in adult social care where we have significant demand.

“As a city, Leeds and its residents continue to show remarkable resilience in adapting to the changes in all our lives caused by Covid-19, and we continue to be especially grateful for all our frontline and key workers, especially those in health roles in keeping us safe. I am confident we can continue to rise to the challenge through working together, continuing to be ambitious, and showing compassion especially for our most vulnerable residents in the months ahead.”

Despite the ongoing challenges and pressures, the council remains committed to being as resilient, enterprising and sustainable as possible, tackling poverty and inequality through a strong economy and compassionate city. Its focus continues to be on its three pillars of inclusive growth, health and wellbeing for all and tackling the climate emergency including achieving net zero by 2030.

In terms of staffing levels, the 2022/23 budget proposals contain a loss of 26 full-time equivalent (FTE posts), but also include 148 new FTE posts in services including climate change, social care and environmental services. Overall, the council has reduced in size by 2,875 FTE posts between 2011 and the end of this financial year. The council continues to be a Real Living Wage employer, with the basic wage level increasing to £9.90 per hour.

Following the discussion of the budget at the executive board meeting next week, the proposals will go out to consultation via a four-week online survey, as well as stakeholder engagement including with councillors, unions, business representatives and third sector groups. Paper copies will be available at community hubs across the city.

The final budget proposals will then be presented to the executive board in February before being debated and voted on at that month’s full council meeting.

To see the budget proposals report, go to agenda item eight at the following link: https://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=11361&x=1&

 

Reading and Leeds Festivals announce today six huge headliners for 2022 as the dual main stage layout returns meaning more massive names and no clashes. Arctic Monkeys, Dave, Rage Against The Machine, Halsey, Megan Thee Stallion and Bring Me The Horizon will be joined by the most exciting talent in rock, indie, alternative, hip-hop and dance including Wolf Alice, Glass Animals, Enter Shikari, Joy Crookes, Little Simz, Run The Jewels, Fever 333, Pale Waves with even more yet to be announced. The three-day festival takes place on 26-28 August 2022, returning to Reading’s famous Richfield Avenue and Leeds’ legendary Bramham Park.

 

A farmer’s son has paid tribute to his late father with a dazzling Xmas light display featuring agricultural 'vehicles' including a tractor, Land Rover and 59ft crop sprayer.

Andrew Wilkinson's incredible festive farm includes a replica of a Land Rover Defender based on the one his father David drove covered in more than 6,000 LED lights.

He used metal frames to build the replica models and put yellow and green lights on the tractor to match its natural paint scheme.

He then added ultraviolet lights to the Land Rover, similar to the colour of his dad’s maroon car.

Andrew, 35, said: “It’s a completely purpose-built frame and the tractor and the plough have in the region of 6,000 to 7,000 lights.”

It is the fifth year that Andrew, of Hayton, East Yorks., has created the incredible attraction in memory of his dad, who sadly died of cancer in 2006.

Andrew, who was himself farmer but now works for an agricultural dealership, said the idea to create the display came to him in 2016, 10 years after his dad's death.

Sponsors of the festive showcase have put up prizes ranging in value from £50 to a £2,500 ride-on mower for those who donate.

It has raised more than £12,000 for Cancer Research UK since Andrew started the annual exhibition.

Andrew, who wants to raise in excess of £4,500, said he hopes his dad would have been proud of his fundraising efforts.

He said: “I used to decorate the house for Christmas anyway, and I thought it would be a good thing to do in 2016, 10 years after Dad passed away.

“It gets a lot of attention - it needs to to raise money. It raised £4,500 last year and I’m hoping I can see that figure again this year.

“Every pound someone donates means a ticket into the raffle.

“Hopefully Dad would be proud of the amount of money I’ve raised.”

(SWNS | Douglas Whitbread)


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