Public to be given a say in spending priorities as North Yorkshire faces £25m budget deficit
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The council says a predicted £25 million deficit in the council’s budget, a situation it says is mirrored across the public sector nationally, will be covered through the one-off use of reserves with some additional savings.
But, it admits, the financial gap is expected to widen in the longer term and will need to be met by additional savings.
A countywide consultation is now being launched to gain the public’s views and pinpoint the key priorities for North Yorkshire Council’s budget for the next financial year.
Council leader, Coun Carl Les, said: “Like all councils, and many residents and businesses, we face major financial challenges due to the cost of living crisis, high rates of inflation and a huge demand for critical services, such as support for children and young people with special educational needs and adult social care.
“However, despite the tough financial climate, we are ambitious for our residents and the thousands of businesses that call North Yorkshire home.
“There’s no doubt we face huge challenges but if we all work together we can build a stronger North Yorkshire.
"We are inviting residents to help us by having your say in our survey about how we should spend the available money.”
During the second year of the new council’s operation, it is estimated that there will be a further shortfall of £30 million, with another annual deficit of £45 million predicted in the third year.
Unless savings can be found, a total of £105 million will be needed to be used from the council’s reserves over the next three years.
North Yorkshire Council points out that millions of pounds in taxpayers’ money is expected to be saved in its first year as services are brought together to realise the benefits of the biggest overhaul of local democracy in nearly 50 years.
By joining up services and maximising spending power, the council is set to recoup between £30 million and £70 million, which will become annual savings.
In addition, North Yorkshire Council has also secured a devolution deal with the Government, which, subject to final approval by Parliament, will create a York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority with major opportunities to boost regeneration and investment.
The council’s deputy leader and executive member for finance and resources, Coun Gareth Dadd, said: “We are making sure the Government understands what we need through our devolution deal and establishing a mayoral-led combined authority.
“By bringing together the eight former county, borough and district councils to form North Yorkshire Council, we have put ourselves in a better position to face the future.
"In fact, by April next year we predict we will have saved £5 million a year just by coming together, and we are working on more opportunities.”
Residents are now being encouraged to have their say on the council’s priorities in the Let’s Talk Money survey.
Feedback received will inform decisions on the 2024/25 budget and the Council Plan covering 2024 to 2028.
To complete The Let’s Talk Money survey, visit: https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/your-council/consultations-and-engagement/lets-talk-north-yorkshire
Paper copies are available from the county’s libraries, leisure centres and main local offices or by calling 0300 1312131.