Council tax rise by 3.99 per cent

Millennium Square and Leeds Civic Hall, Leeds City Centre. Picture: Mark Bickerdike.
Millennium Square and Leeds Civic Hall, Leeds City Centre. Picture: Mark Bickerdike.

Leeds City Council has passed its budget proposals following a lengthy four-and-a-half-hour debate and 21 proposed amendments.

Plans for the 2020/21 budget, which included cuts to services of £28.4m and a rise in council tax by 3.99 percent in the coming year.

Speaking to a full Leeds City Council meeting, council leader Judith Blake warned ‘austerity isn’t over’, adding a devolution deal was needed for Leeds as soon as possible, as otherwise the district could miss out on large amounts of funding and responsibility.

Opposition Conservatives group leader, Coun Andrew Carter, claimed most of the cuts were due to council debt repayments, adding the authority had made poor decisions on devolution in the past.

As part of the authority’s 2020/21 budget, the ruling Labour group proposed a council tax increase of 3.99 per cent, as well as savings of £28.4m.

It added that the contribution of business rates to the revenue charge is down £900,000 from where it was expected, due to an increase in rates relief. However, it added a grant of £2.7m from government would cover this.

It added an increase in the business rates levy of £200,000, as well as an extra contribution of £2.2m to the authority’s insurance reserve.

Despite an additional increase of £1.1 of section 278 income (money charged from developers to improve roads), the level of homelessness reduction grant will increase by £300,000.

It also made allowances for an increase in additional rough sleepers and rapid rehousing funding of £350,000, while the children and families directorate will receive £1.6m of additional strengthening families grant in 2020/21.

Proposed amendments included Conservative plans for a new ‘nearest school’ website for parents, as well as Liberal Democrat plans to add a further one per cent onto council tax to pay for a climate change fighting fund.

All 21 proposed amendments were voted down by the authority, with the original Labour plan getting the green light from members.