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Bradford Council will avoid bankruptcy after Government agrees 'exceptional financial support'

Bradford Council will not need to declare bankruptcy after the Government agreed to measures that would allow the cash-strapped authority to borrow millions.

The support amounts to £80 million in 2023-24, and £140 million in 2024-25. It means the Council will now be able to present balanced budgets for council approval for both these years.

The Council has had to deal with a number of very financially challenging circumstances as a result of inflationary pressures and significant increases in demand for children’s and adult social care.

As part of the Exceptional Financial Support, DLUHC has issued the Council with a non statutory Best Value Notice which acknowledges the steps the Council has already taken to identify and manage the serious financial challenges it faces, and the efforts it has made to work with the Government to find a solution.

The notice follows an independent CIPFA review which was conducted in August 2023 which, while supportive of the council’s financial leadership and approach also made a series of recommendations many of which the council is addressing. 

Improvements in financial governance have already been delivered and the Chief Executive, who took up post in October 2023, has put in place an emergency budget response team to identify savings, stronger oversight of spending, and is enhancing the transformation programme. There has also been much closer working with the Children’s Trust, working together to improve services and reduce costs.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, The Leader of Bradford Council, said: "I welcome this news. It gives the Council the stability our district needs and means we will be able to present a balanced budget this year and next. However, this is not free money, it has to be paid back.  And like all councils, we still face extremely challenging financial headwinds over the next few years, primarily due to rising demand in social care.

"The difficult decisions have not gone away. This news does mean, however, that we will be able to put in place our five year plan to make the council financially sustainable.  This plan needs to be delivered quickly and, as set out in the recent budget reports, includes tackling the structural budget gap, refreshing the Council’s culture and investing in the corporate services needed to deliver change.

“The Council has been working extremely hard to tackle the difficult financial challenges we face. It’s good that the CIPFA review, carried out last summer, has now been published by Government.  We welcome external challenge to help us keep on track. The Bradford Children’s and Families Trust is making good progress under the leadership of the Trust Board and Charlotte Ramsden, the Chief Executive.

“A condition of the Exceptional Financial Support is that we will be setting up an Improvement Board. The Council’s Chief Executive Lorraine O’Donnell is already working closely with the Government to deliver the recommendations we all want to see so that the Council can move on to a secure financial footing.”

Eileen Milner, Chair of Bradford Children and Families Trust, said: "This is positive news for both the Council and the Trust, although we acknowledge that there are many challenges ahead. The Trust is a new organisation, but we have a clear plan in place to continue to make improvements in the services we provide for children and families in Bradford and, as we do so, to continue to drive down costs. The work of the last eleven months is already demonstrating good progress.

 "We are committed to continuing to work in partnership with colleagues in the Council and with partners in both the DfE and DLUHC. Collectively we all acknowledge our duty to deliver safe, effective and efficient  social care services for the children and young people of Bradford and District."


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