Getting rid of managers, using reserves and selling assets were all ideas residents had for Kirklees Council to save cash.

And now the authority has looked at the costs, benefits and implications of your ideas.

Kirklees needs to find £69m savings in the next three years – on top of the £83m cuts already made.

Director of Resources David Smith said: “We need to get across the scale of the cuts we face – £69m is 12 times our spend on libraries; eight times our road maintenance spend and twice as much as we spend on vulnerable children.

“It’s about the same amount we spend on social care, so that should show the scale of the challenge we face.”

Mr Smith has read all the budget consultation comments and picked out repeat themes.

The first is to use reserves, which unions and residents at last week’s Full Council urged.

Mr Smith said: “If we used our reserves that would last four weeks if that was all we had for income.

“We can do that only once and it still doesn’t change the amount of income we get from central government.”

Kirklees Council Director of Resources David Smith.
 

Another repeat comment was to reduce the senior management team.

There has been a 40% cut in senior management in the last five years.

Kirklees would be classed as a medium-sized organisation with 8,500 employees, plus 9,000 in schools. It is above the average size for metropolitan borough councils.

Mr Smith added: “If we get rid of assistant directors and above you would need to do that 33 times to bridge the gap.

“If nobody had a salary above £60,000 we’d need to do that 70 times over to make up the shortfall.”

To make the £69m shortfall all Kirklees staff would have to earn no more than the Living Wage (£7.85) and it leaves questions about leadership and accountability.

‘Reduce the number of councillors’ was another idea, but it’s not actually in Kirklees control.

There is one councillor per 6,200 people and Mr Smith said: “I think our councillors provide value. The allowance is £12,500 and I know councillors spend a full working week on their responsibilities – that’s less than minimum wage.”

To reduce councillors or wards would involve a change in legislation by the government.

Cutting the number of councillors by one third will contribute less than 1% to the £69m savings needed.

‘Sell your assets’ was another idea and Kirklees has cut its estate by 25% already.

Selling artwork would, like the reserves, be a one-off and there are caveats that prevent Kirklees benefiting from some.

Reducing print costs is something they are doing and chief executive Adrian Lythgo has said he would be willing to ignore legislation – if councillors agree – which states they have to print an agenda for councillors.

Sharing services was highly recommended and Kirklees is working with the Leeds City Region and Combined Authority of councils to share legal and potential fraud service costs.

Tomorrow, we’ll publish which of your ideas Kirklees is exploring.

Here's Kirklees Council's video outlining their bid to meet the budget cuts

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