North Yorkshire faces tough decision to use cash reserves

This story was published 19 January 2022

North Yorkshire faces having to draw on its cash reserves to meet service demand as it sets its final budget before the new unitary council for the county comes into effect from 1 April 2023

A calculator

Our executive faces tough choices next week when it will make recommendations on the authority’s budget for the year ahead, including setting the level of council tax.

County Councillor Carl Les, North Yorkshire’s Leader said: “We are facing an unprecedented range of risks – the continuing impact of Covid-19, harsh winters and climate change, the need for interventions to prop up social care, the escalating costs of transport for special educational needs students, to name but a few.

“These pressures are such that given the need to continue to deliver key services at a time of rising demand and the need to successfully transition to a new council, our final budget will require a higher degree of support from reserves than would otherwise be the case or is desirable. ”

We have been consulting the public about its budget, including council tax for next year. Under Government rules, we can raise council tax by up to 1.99% from April, plus up to a further 2.49% for the adult social care precept.

Members face the prospect of having to draw on reserves between £6m and £11m depending on their decision on the level of council tax for the county. 

“Increasing council tax is never an easy option for us,” said Cllr Les. “We have always striven to be moderate in our increases. We need to understand and balance the hardship families face and the pressure a council tax rise might add with the need to fund essential services to support the most vulnerable in our communities and the services our communities and residents want to see delivered, none of which are without a cost.”

We have to grapple with increasing volatility in the months ahead due to rising costs associated with high inflation and uncertainty in relation to Government funding along with the continuing “scarring” caused by Covid-19 and increased demand for services.

Cllr Gareth Dadd, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Finance, said: “These continue to be turbulent times. We are responding to increased pressures that the pandemic has placed on our communities and the county’s economy. At the same time, long-term challenges grow, for example the massive pressures in social care. This means we face further tough choices as we budget for the future.”

Budget proposals will be considered by the council’s Executive on 25 January and by the full council in February.