Bradford Council could overspend by an estimated £18 million this financial year largely due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
A high number of additional costs have grown due to the council’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which was not anticipated when the initial 2021-21 budget was set in February.
There has also been a significant loss of income from the closure of Bradford Council services across the district including leisure centres, theatres, museums and galleries. Further demand for social care and domestic violence support services for disadvantaged children and families has also grown in the district as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and led to further spending.
The central Government has already provided critical financial support for local councils across the UK. But Bradford Council, in addition to other local authorities, are calling for further government support to help the COVID-19 response and to support the council in meeting the unexpected financial shortfall brought on by the Coronavirus.
Additional financial backing would also help the council to achieve its future plans to develop the city, which includes investment in the regeneration of the city centre, transport improvements, a cleaner environment, funding for child support services and Bradford’s City of Culture bid.
Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said: “Even before the COVID crisis, the Local Government Association had identified that local services in England faced an overall funding gap of almost £6.5 billion by 2025 having lost almost £15 billion in central government funding. The extra pressures added by COVID and our critical role as an authority in responding to this have hampered our efforts towards delivering a balanced budget.
“We strongly believe that a failure to provide the investment local authorities need would not only hinder our ambitions for the Bradford district but would be a false economy in causing greater costs down the line.
“We are calling on the Government to work with us to deliver on the crucial levelling-up agenda by providing a sufficiency and certainty of funding which currently does not exist.
“Without it, we put at risk the life chances of a generation and we put at risk our ambitions to unlock the great potential of the district and its key place at the heart of the North.”