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Leeds warns over financial gap

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England’s second largest unitary council has warned that it cannot close the gap between its funding and commitments for 2017-18.

Leeds City Council said it could find only 83% of the cuts it must make for next year.

Judith Blake

Judith Blake

Judith Blake

A report to the executive board next week will say that it has been impossible so far to find sufficient savings or income-generating opportunities.

Leader Judith Blake (Lab) said: “After six years of continuous cuts to the council’s budget, we’re now at a point where something has to give. It’s become almost impossible to make sensible savings without significantly affecting front line services that the people of Leeds rely on.

“If we don’t see a change of direction from government in the Autumn Statement we will be left with no choice but to make some very hard decisions that will inevitably affect front line services in Leeds.”

Councillors will be warned of an estimated £110m funding gap for the period 2017-18 to 2019-20, some £82m of which is front-loaded into next year.

Leeds is second only to Birmingham in population for a single council area. Its net annual revenue budget this year is £496.4m, almost 65% of which goes to adult and child social services.

Potential savings have been identified of £91m over the three-year plan in support services, senior management reductions and better integration of community services.

However there remains a gap over the plan period of £18.5m, with £12.8m being the forecast shortfall in 2017-18.

Meanwhile, Leeds’ deputy chief executive and director of strategy and resources Alan Gay (pictured), has decided to retire next March after 39 years in local government and the council is preparing to shirnk its senior leadership team.

gay alan

Alan Gay

Chief executive Tom Riordan said: ”For many years he has provided invaluable leadership to our financial planning and management, and a range of other key services. Most recently Alan has overseen the council’s response to the significant financial pressures of the last few years.

“Alan and his contribution will be sorely missed and it is now appropriate that as a council we look at making our leadership team smaller while ensuring we continue to improve and make significant savings in the face of major financial challenges.”

Mr Riordan said many of Mr Gay’s responsibilities would from fall to Neil Evans, current director for environments and housing, following planned departmental mergers. It is not yet known who will take on section 151 officer responsibilities.

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