West Yorkshire Combined Authority has announced that it will be returning significant funding to council budgets, as local authorities across the country report budgetary struggles.
Working together with leaders of the five local councils within West Yorkshire, the Combined Authority will use £51 million to boost budgets. With serious financial troubles for many councils, brought on by high inflation, increasing costs, and a rise in demand for children’s and adult social care, the funding will come from the West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund Reserve.
Usually, the funding pot that the investment comes from would be utilised for long-term infrastructure projects, however local leaders have put emphasis on the fact that a long-term sustainable funding model is vital for councils to address their financial challenges.
Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin said:
“Councils across West Yorkshire and beyond are facing the perfect storm of government austerity cuts and high inflation. Because of devolution, I’ve been able to work with them to identify this support at a time of need.
“With town halls across the country declaring huge financial deficits, it is only right that regional leaders work together and step in where they can. But I am urging the government to stop passing the buck for their mismanagement of the economy and properly fund local government for the long-term.”
Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield councils will be given the funding based on their populations. This sees Leeds – home to 812,000 people – given the largest allocation of £17,661,242 and Calderdale – with a population of 206,600 – allocated £4,493,611.
Councillor James Lewis, Leader of Leeds City Council, commented:
“Leeds City Council is facing huge financial pressures made worse by national issues linked to inflation and growing demand for council services.
“The funding from the mayor will help in part, but it won’t solve the underlying problem that councils just aren’t properly funded by national government. With a projected funding gap in Leeds of £59.2m next financial year, our council will still have to take some extremely difficult decisions about council services and buildings that haven’t been considered before.”
Leader of Bradford Council, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, also added:
“One of the benefits of working closely in partnership with the Combined Authority is that we’re able to ensure funding is in the right place at the right time to be of best use.
“While this return of funding is appreciated, it in no way makes up for the £350m in funding for Bradford that has been cut by central government.
“Many local authorities nationally are facing significant financial challenges, government needs to change its approach to ensure councils can continue to meet increasing demand for services amid high inflation and energy costs.”
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