Council cash crisis: Job losses, council tax hike and Dewsbury could lose its register office as Kirklees Council publishes draft budget

Dewsbury’s register office could shut, council jobs will be cut and council tax will rise if Kirklees Council’s draft budget goes ahead.
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Kirklees Council has published its draft budget for the next financial year, including upping fees and charges, looking to make hundreds of staff members redundant, and reviewing its estate.

While the borough’s council-owned dementia care homes recently saw a welcome reprieve, other “painful decisions” have been made to balance the books and make a £34.5m saving across 2024/25.

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To cope with soaring costs and increased demand on council services, particularly those for vulnerable residents that the council is legally required to provide, the local authority says it needs to streamline some services, and increasing its income through avenues like parking charges.

Dewsbury Register Office is based at Dewsbury Town Hall but could be shut under the plansDewsbury Register Office is based at Dewsbury Town Hall but could be shut under the plans
Dewsbury Register Office is based at Dewsbury Town Hall but could be shut under the plans

The following are some of the measures the council is looking to bring in for 2024/25 according to the draft budget:

Council tax hike

As anticipated, the budget means council tax for residents would increase by 2.99 per cent with a further 2 per cent increase earmarked for social care services for older residents and local people with disabilities. In total, the budget means an additional £1.71 per week for an average Band D property.

The draft budget states: “The council is mindful of the current cost of living challenge facing the citizens of Kirklees but faces a tough choice about whether to increase council tax to bring in desperately needed funding whilst at the same time acutely aware of the significant burden that places on households during a continuing cost of living crisis.”

Job cuts

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In the current financial year, it was revealed that the council was looking to make up to 750 redundancies across its workforce, with 250 to be made by March.

The draft budget for 2024/25 says that service redesign and vacancy management across various departments will result in the loss of jobs and some vacancies going unfilled.

Sale and closure of buildings

The document says that the council will be continuing to rationalise its assets over the course of the next financial year.

In November, it ws reported that the council would be disposing of four major buildings – the former Red House Museum at Gomersal, Dalton, Rawthorpe and Moldgreen Sport and Community Centre, the HUDAWI Centre on Huddersfield’s Great Northern Street and 1 Beech Street at Paddock.

Parking fee increases

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Increases to parking charges across the council’s sites are a feature of the 2024/25 draft budget. Cabinet has already decided to increase fees at ‘chargeable’ council-managed and maintained car parks, with the revised costs to come in at car parks in Huddersfield, Dewsbury and Holmfirth in less than two weeks’ time.

Among the other money-saving measures being proposed are:

The closure of one of the borough’s registry offices – either at Huddersfield or Dewsbury

Increase to bereavement fees and charges in line with the rate of inflation

A review of fees and charges across museums and galleries

A redesign of Greenhead Park’s conservatory cafe’s operation and opening hours

An increase in school meal prices

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A reduction of winter service levels for precautionary gritting and snow clearance

Bedding plants won’t be planted outside of Kirklees’ town centres and “principal parks”

A review of opening hours at council-run tips

Slashing ward budgets from an annual £20k per ward to £10k