Bradford awaits details on its share of £500m extra funding for councils

Wednesday, 24 January 2024 22:11

By Chris Young, Local Democracy Reporter

City Hall, Bradford. Image: Rombalds Radio.

Bradford Council is awaiting an announcement on how much of a planned £500m boost to local authorities will be coming to the district.

The government has announced it will increase the amount of funding councils get this year in light of the increasing number of authorities facing bankruptcy due to rising social care costs.

But it is not yet clear how much of this funding will be coming Bradford’s way.

Late last year, Bradford Council announced that it faced a budget black hole of over £70m this year, and if it did not receive support from government it would likely need to issue a Section 114 notice – effectively declaring bankruptcy.

The new funding announced by government comes after dozens of MPs, including more than 40 Tories, wrote to the Prime Minister demanding extra funding for councils in England to avoid big cuts to services.

In Bradford, the Children’s Trust that runs Children’s Services is facing an overspend of over £45m this year, and Bradford Council has asked for government support to help balance this budget.

On Wednesday afternoon, Communities Secretary Michael Gove confirmed councils across the country would receive an emergency £500 million boost for social care.

In a written statement, Mr Gove also said he would increase the government’s “funding guarantee”, which is the percentage by which councils' core spending power increases each year, from 3 per cent to 4 per cent.

The extra money amounts to a combined package of £600 million and will increase councils’ core spending power up to £4.5 billion in 2024/25.

Mr Gove also announced a £15 million increase in the rural services delivery grant in recognition of challenges faced by councils serving dispersed populations.

However, many council bosses have said this would only be a short term fix for councils facing huge ongoing pressures.

After the announcement Bradford Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: “Any funding for local authorities is obviously welcome. It shows that the government acknowledges that there is a structural shortfall in council funding nationally because of the rising demands and inflation-busting costs for social care services.

“We have been clear that here in Bradford, the Bradford Children and Families Trust alone has an in-year budget pressure of nearly £50 million and next year is predicting this will be £42 million.

“We therefore need to wait to see how much of the £500m announced nationally today will be coming to Bradford before we can see how much this helps our financial position.”

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