Baines Cllr Stephen Baines, the Conservative leader of Calderdale Council, says getting a the lower Council Tax has been a group effort.

When I became responsible for our budget in May 2007 our financial strategy was for a 4.8% increase for each of the next 3 years. I believe in low taxation so with the backing of the Conservative Group we split into five teams covering each of the main areas of Council expenditure and started the work of trawling through for efficiency savings.

For 2008/9 we reduced the planned increase to 2.5% which was the lowest increase in the history of Calderdale Council; for 2009/10 we reduced to a 1.87% increase and our minus 1% proposals for 2010/11.
All of these were achieved without reducing front line services to the public.

We have reduced employment in management and administration, starting with our Senior Management team reducing from 32 to 26 which will result in savings of over £400k after termination of employment costs.

We have reduced temporary employment through Agencies and reducing costs of consultants. We are constantly reviewing better ways of working and outsourcing to reduce costs. Last year we changed refuse collection to a fortnightly Wheelie Bin collection and a weekly recycling collection that includes a separate
waste food collection (removing the problems of smells and vermin from fortnightly collections). This has resulted in our recyclable collections increasing to 45% of our waste leading to savings of £300k on landfill charges and taxes (this is a conservative estimate and should prove to be higher).

We have reduced wage inflation to zero for 2010/11 and 1% for the following two years; any award over this would have to be funded by further efficiencies. We have also assumed inflation of contracts at 1% for each year. Our budget groups will continue to meet to meet our targets of delivering the lowest level of Council tax without reducing front line services. This process will continue to be a team effort delivering sound Conservative financial management to the people we serve.

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