Jobs will go, taxes will rise and services close as Kirklees Council finance chiefs face up to a decade of constant cuts.

That’s the honest assessment of council leaders ahead of the budget meeting to decide how to cope with multi-million pound funding shortages over the next five years.

Figures show reserves are likely to run dry in just a two years leaving the council at risk of going bankrupt if it does not slash hundreds of jobs and make further significant cuts.

About 1,000 roles are likely to be made redundant by 2020 to offset an £84m blackhole in the council’s resources.

A Kirklees Council budget meeting at Huddersfield Town Hall in 2013.

In December the council was told it would be getting £50m less per year from the government over the period – far worse than expected.

Council leader Clr David Sheard said the council had already shed 1,400 jobs since 2010 and by 2020 it would be the smallest it has ever been.

“We’ve got to deal with the money we’ve got, not the money we’d like to have,” said Clr Sheard.

“We’ve got to make the money we’ve got deliver as much a possible.

“The only way we see of doing that is by growth and by changing the way people do things.”

Council tax rise

Clr Sheard said he understood people would be upset as the council took away services with one hand but asked for more council tax with the other.

Current proposals are for a 3.95% increase – about £1 a week more for an average home.

Council tax bill

“There’s lots of uncertainty about the budget,” he admitted. “A lot of it depends totally on being successful in reducing demand on the council.

“It is a massive reduction – there’s £2m or £3m reductions to some services.

More cuts, building sales and closing museums

“Some of the big ones are already done such as libraries and grass cutting but really big changes will come to services the public don’t notice like social care.

“We are also going to stop doing some things such as support for schools.

“Rangers, dog wardens, all the enforcement services will suffer cutbacks.

“We’ll be looking to sell council buildings left, right and centre – about £5m to £6m a year.

“The big cut will be the reduction of museums from five to three.

“There’s some big decisions that will play out over the year.”

Clr David Sheard.

Clr Sheard said he was upset at having to recommend more cuts but said people had voted for slimmed down local authorities when they elected the Conservative government last year.

“What will be left is very little,” he said. “It will be a different council altogether – but it was voted for. We will deliver as much as we can with the little money we’ve got.

“We’re going into it with gusto.

“Some councils are salami slicing every service by taking a bit of each one. We can’t do that as some services wouldn’t function – we’ve had to cut 40%.”

People 'doing more for themselves'

Clr Sheard said much of the budget for New Council – the council’s name for its slimmed down form – relied on people doing more for themselves.

“We’ve got to help people help themselves, rather than do it for them,” he said. “It’s an all new council, an all new way of doing things.

“It’s not easy – not for staff, not for members, not for the public, – it’s not easy for anybody.

“But it’s the only way we can see that’s recognisable as a council.

“This is why we’re so dependent on the Local Plan. We need the houses, we need the jobs and we need the income from the rates.”

Council reserves could run out

George Osborne
George Osborne

Chancellor George Osborne has repeatedly claimed local authorities were sitting on huge reserves, which should now be spent to offset reductions in government grants.

But figures show Kirklees, already one of the lowest spending councils per head, could run out of reserves before the next General Election.

Clr Sheard said it was “smoke and mirrors” as some councils down south had received a funding boost amid austerity for the north.

He said: “The Chancellor’s allowed an extra 2% council tax increase for social care – that’s all gone from meeting the Living Wage for care workers.

“He’s taken money off us, but given us less back.

“It is political, but no-one can say they didn’t say they were going to do it.

“They believe in smaller local government.

“I can’t say they lied as they always said they were going to squeeze local government.

“What we feel is unfair is it has been unbalanced – some authorities down in the south are getting an increase.

“Oxfordshire has gone up. There’s been a real shift in allocations.”

Need to change 'over-reliance' on council

Clr Sheard said an attitude shift was required by everyone in a bid to avoid Kirklees becoming a worse place to live.

“We’ve got to remember there are thousands of volunteers out there,” he said. “We’re all living here, so we’ve got to change the way we think.

”We have become over-reliant on the council.

“People talk about if we stopped picking up litter they wouldn’t volunteer to do it.

“I want them to stop throwing it. People believe someone’s walking behind to pick it up.

“That is true across the whole council.

READ MORE: Kirklees Council budget crisis: councillors to discuss multi-million budget shortfalls

READ MORE: Kirklees Council tax may go up almost 4% next year

“The perception is the local authority is there to sort it out.

“There’s a general belief that there’s someone behind a door to go do a job for them all the time; we’re just going to have to change that attitude.

“There’s always going to be some people who can’t do things for themselves. Demand is going up to care for older people yet we’re not getting the extra money in.

“We have got people who need 24 hour care - it’s expensive but we can’t walk away from that.”