Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council
Our focus in Barnsley is to deliver excellent services while investing in the borough. We do this because we want Barnsley and its communities to thrive. We want to give people ambition and a sense of pride in where they live.
We're proposing a balanced budget for 2024-2025. Our financial position is well-managed, but things are difficult. We've had to make some tough decisions, but we can, for this year, keep delivering the services people need.
We estimate that we’ll spend £35 million more on day-to-day running costs next year. We predicted that this would be the case, and we’ve set aside some money to help pay for this extra pressure.
While we received some additional government funding, it hasn’t made up for the huge cuts since 2010 and doesn’t cover the cost of the increased demand. Because of this, we’re delivering £8 million in efficiency savings through a significant transformation programme, redesigning our services and processes and using technology to deliver better services.
Creating an ambitious future for our residents
We know that Barnsley must move forward, and we're committed to making this happen. Our one-off capital investment projects are what set us apart from other councils. We use funding from the government, the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority or other funding bodies to create these opportunities.
Over the next four years, the budget proposes to invest over £64 million, including an additional £2 million of our council funds for roads and highway maintenance, as well as external funding in major infrastructure improvements. This includes investment in council housing, schools and transformational projects such as:
- Moving forward with our Health on the High Street plans with our health partners, building on the success of the trailblazing Community Diagnostic Centre in The Glass Works.
- Developing and piloting approaches to enrich young people's lives in Barnsley so that all young people have the same opportunities as those available to young people from wealthier homes.
- Creating an activity park next to the town centre's forthcoming Youth Zone.
- Working with the world-renowned Barnsley Youth Choir on the creation of a new Northern Academy for Vocal Excellence (NAVE) to deliver outstanding singing tuition to young people.
- Further work to transform our Principal Towns, improving the environment and giving urban spaces and buildings new purpose.
Funding our day-to-day services
It's getting increasingly difficult to balance the budget. The bulk of our revenue budget, which supports our day-to-day services, comes from council tax, government grants, fees, charges, and some proportion of business rates. Still, this total has not kept up with the demand for our services, the increasing price of materials and utilities as well as the cost of living crisis and the impact of that on you, our residents.
In the last two years, the cost of Children's and Adult Social Care services has risen by £40 million. That stretches any organisation.
We propose increasing the council's element of Council Tax by 4.99%, with most households paying no more than an extra £1.50 per week. That's broken down by 2% to support Adult Social Care and 2.99% to maintain other vital services.
We very much recognise the financial pressure on you and your families. It's an incredibly hard decision, which hasn’t been taken lightly, but without this extra income, we would have to change or stop delivering some of our services, impacting everyone.
If you're struggling to pay your Council Tax or need help with your finances, utility bills, food, housing, health and wellbeing, or advice on your employment and skills development, you can find lots of support on our More Money in Your Pocket webpage at barnsley.gov.uk/MMIYP.
Planning for the future
We're always one step ahead with our planning. We're updating our Council Plan, which sits alongside our three-year financial plan, taking us up to 2026-2027.
This forward-thinking approach helps us balance our budgets and has contributed to us winning two Council of the Year Awards in 2023. No council has ever achieved this feat.
The 2024-2025 budget proposals will be considered at Cabinet on Wednesday, 7 February, before being presented to Full Council on Thursday, 29 February. You can read the full report on our website.