Hull City Council Leader, Councillor Stephen Brady, has published the proposed Budget Statement for 2021/22, ahead of it being discussed at Full Council on 25 February.
The Budget outlines that there will be no cuts to services for residents, and savings will be made through internal council savings but no redundancies will be made. Council Tax will rise by 4.99 per cent, but those receiving council tax support will be protected from the rise through the use of the Hardship Fund.
Leader of Hull City Council, Councillor Stephen Brady said:
“The coronavirus crisis has and continues to dominate the work of the council and the financial outlook for the council. The costs relating to the pandemic will continue into the 2021/22 financial year and it is expected there will be an impact into future years as well. ”
The financial position for 2021/22
Over the last ten years, the government grant to Hull City Council has reduced by £130 million (a 55 per cent reduction).
In 2021, an additional £20million of government covid-19 funding for Hull has been announced, meaning the council’s financial position has been dramatically improved in the immediate term.
To ensure the council can balance the budget at the end of 2021/22, the budget proposes £3million of internal savings need to be made over the next year, through filling vacant positions only where there is a strong business need, and through non-pay savings including energy and automation savings.
The budget proposes additional funding to meet increasing care costs in Children, Young People and Family Services (CYPFS) and Adult Social Care (ASC). £10m being allocated to CYPFS to meet the needs of a continually growing number of looked after children, from approximately 800 to approximately 900. £4.5m being allocated to ASC to meet the pressures which have arisen due to the impact of the pandemic.
Councillor Phil Webster continued: “We are focusing on the protection and stabilisation of services this year, and have outlined a standstill budget. As we do not know how much money we will get from the government in future years, it makes planning ahead very difficult. We eagerly await the results of the Fair Funding Review and our four-year funding settlement, which will enable us to plan ahead properly.”
The budget proposes a Council Tax increase of 4.99 per cent from April, which includes a 3 per cent adult social care precept. For people living in a Band A property, this will be an increase of 91 pence a week for council services, and an annual increase from £950.65 in 2020/21 to £998.09 in 2021/22.
Discounts continue for young people leaving care and Armed Forces personnel.
The Hardship Fund will be used to assist those households that receive council tax support. Around 25,000 households on council tax support will receive a £30 discount on their bill for 21/22.
Portfolio Holder for finance, Councillor Phil Webster said; “It is really important that we continue to do everything we can to support those most in need. Using the Hardship Fund for those on council tax support means we are helping to protect those families that are most vulnerable.
“I am pleased that the budget proposes no cuts to the services delivered to residents, despite a loss in income and the additional pandemic-related costs.”
The budget outlines a rent rise of 1.5 per cent for council houses.
The council is the city’s biggest landlord with around 23,500 properties. 480 new council homes will be built over the next five years, with 170 of those to be built in 2021/22. The council also continues the Empty Homes Programme to bring empty properties back into use.
The council will continue with the capital projects committed to in previous budgets, including essential improvements to roads, schools, parks, homes and neighbourhoods. Projects include East Park splash pad, Beverley Road Baths, Albert Avenue Baths, Ice Arena, private housing frontages, roads and bridge maintenance, and creating additional SEND provision in mainstream and special schools.
It is proposed that additional capital investment in 2021/22 is committed for street lighting, Chapman Street Bridge and Stoneferry Road works which aim to reduce congestion by 50 per cent and improve air quality.
Councillor Phil Webster said: “We need to assess the post-Covid world before making significant changes to projects. Therefore for the year ahead we will continue with projects already started and committed to, with some additional investment for the city’s highways.”