City council, leader Ric Metcalfe is warning of cuts to services as the authority faces a £1 million shortfall in its budget. No decisions have yet been made on what this would mean exactly for services, with further reports due before future meetings once councillors have a grasp of the implications.
But Cllr Metcalfe says “it is likely we will be unable to carry on delivering everything we currently do to the same level.” Rising energy bills, pay levels and contract costs, alongside emergency repairs to Yarborough Leisure Centre, will add up to a “significant” £1,035,000 shortfall.
The figure equates to around 12 per cent of its original £8.907940 revenue budget approved earlier this year. It means the council will have to revisit its plans. A council report states gas prices for 2022/23 have increased by 70 per cent since April this year, when the budget began, while electricity prices are estimated to increase between 80-to-100 per cent from October – a total of around £197,000.
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Meanwhile, frontline service contacts for waste and street cleansing have seen a 5.4 per cent increase equating to £97,000 and staff pay is set to increase by 10.5 per cent – around £585,000. Repairs to Yarborough Leisure Centre are currently forecast to cost £319,000.
In a statement, Cllr Metcalfe said that “so much has changed in recent months that we are required to revisit our plans”. He said: “We have been affected by ongoing global events, rising inflation, increased demand for services and pay and price inflationary impacts on external contracts.
“Like every household and business in the city, we are struggling with the issue of rising costs. We are also finding it more and more expensive to provide the services that people need at a time when our budgets are under such significant strain.”
Cllr Metcalfe said the hikes meant the council would need a new plan to reduce costs in order to ensure it maintained “a sustainable financial position over the coming months, while still delivering support to communities to help them through these unprecedented times”.
“We will do all we can, as quickly as we can, to ensure we maintain a tight grip on our finances in order to deal with the challenges ahead,” he said.
“While we want to protect services as much as we can, with the cost increases we are facing, it is likely we will be unable to carry on delivering everything we currently do to the same level.
“In the absence of additional financial support from central government, we will be forced to consider the range and level of services that we are able to continue to provide.”
A report to the council’s executive on Monday, October 3 warns that residents and businesses will also be impacted by rising costs, which could lead to “an increased demand for council services, as the more vulnerable in the city look for support and a reduction in both income for services and collection rates”.