Kirklees Council 'will not go bust’, says chief financial officer as meeting hears the local authority's financial position is looking up

Kirklees Council’s chief financial officer has given a strong assurance that the local authority will not be declaring itself effectively bankrupt this year.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

It is no secret that Kirklees Council is navigating treacherous financial waters, needing to save £47m before the financial year is out.

However, Tuesday’s (December 5) meeting of the council’s overview and management scrutiny committee heard that the council’s financial position is looking up and that it will not be issuing a Section 114 notice to declare itself effectively bankrupt.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Following a presentation from Kirklees’ chief financial officer, Isabel Brittain, Coun Andrew Cooper (Greens, Newsome) asked whether the council has done enough to avoid issuing a Section 114.

Kirklees Council needs to save £47m before the financial year is outKirklees Council needs to save £47m before the financial year is out
Kirklees Council needs to save £47m before the financial year is out

In response, Ms Brittain said: “We won’t be issuing a Section 114 notice. We are doing a lot of work behind the scenes to reduce that spend.

"Obviously we have plans in place and this is the position as of the end of September. We’re still a couple more months into the expenditure.

“The team and myself are trying to control non-essential spends, we’re holding vacancies open and at this point in time, we are very positive that we will end this year in a better position than we are at the moment.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We will go into the Medium Term Financial Plan for 24/25 with a suite of opportunities that will allow us to balance the books and continue in a resilient way for the budget for Kirklees Council.”

Coun Graham Turner, cabinet member for finance and regenerationCoun Graham Turner, cabinet member for finance and regeneration
Coun Graham Turner, cabinet member for finance and regeneration

Coun Graham Turner, cabinet member for finance and regeneration, added: “Isabel was quite right there, we are not going to go into Section 114.

"We will do absolutely everything within our power to make sure we don’t because that would be the absolute worst outcome for this local authority and its residents.

“So no matter how much work and how much time it takes, we will find those savings, we will deliver a balanced budget in March to ensure that we don’t go into Section 114 territory.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It’s not the case for many other local authorities but we will not reach that point – we are confident of that.”

Coun Turner said it would be an “absolute disaster” for residents if a Section 114 was issued.

He acknowledged that while the council is “not where it wants to be” in terms of the cuts and “painful” decisions that are being made, the local authority is “committed” to delivering a balanced budget.

Read More
Read more: Images show RAAC damage at Dewsbury Sports Centre which remains unsaf...

The council’s forecast overspend for 2023/24 has reduced from £20.3m in July to £16.1m in October. Though some areas like children and families are still said to be “of concern”, every council directorate has improved its position over the past quarter.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Like many councils across the country, the impact of inflation and growing demand for services like social care for children and older residents has caused major challenges for local authority budgets in the current year and for future budgets.

Going forward, other avenues are being explored to save some more cash including upping parking fees, closing care homes for people with dementia and reducing the borough’s leisure centre offering.

Such measures have prompted major pushback from members of the community, as well as from some councillors, and campaign efforts are ongoing.