THE LEEDS area is facing a threat of ‘big cuts’ to services unless more support is provided by central government.

That is the warning Leeds City Council’s leader has made ahead of a meeting that will discuss how the authority should tackle a significant budget shortfall.

The council says the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has left it facing an ‘extremely difficult financial situation’ which will be discussed by the Executive Board on Thursday, September 24.

It is currently projecting, after accounting for government support, an estimated funding gap of £52.5 million in this financial year and a £118.8 million shortfall- £66.1m of which is due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus - for 2021-2022.

Leeds is expected to receive £67.8 million of government funding towards offsetting the financial impact of COVID-19 on its approved, 2020-21 budget.

But council leader Councillor Judith Blake says that will not be enough.

She said: “In what has been an extremely difficult decade for local authorities we have proved here in Leeds that we are a prudent, financially well run council.

“The impact of coronavirus has had an enormous impact on our financial position.

“Not only in terms of the costs to tackle COVID-19, but on many of our revenue streams that help provide the funding we need to fund vital front-line services.

“Whilst welcoming the assistance offered so far by government to meet the costs of coronavirus, it simply does not go far enough when you also consider the significant cuts made to our central grant funding since 2010.

“We are therefore in talks with the Government to discuss what else they can do to help because, without additional assistance, there is a threat of big cuts to services.

“These financial reports to executive board set out the stark financial position we face and a number of steps we intend to move forward with to mitigate the impact of the budget gap in the next financial year.

“We will do everything in our power to ensure that our front-line services supporting the elderly, vulnerable and all those in need continue to be protected.”

The council has already embarked on a large savings programme, totalling £32.6 million, to tackle the additional budgetary pressures created by the coronavirus.

The measures have included:

*Implementing a recruitment freeze for non-essential posts

*Introducing overtime restrictions

*Introducing a freeze on non-essential expenditure

A number of further saving proposals for 2021-22 will be considered at the September 24 meeting.

The financial reports can be viewed by visiting the executive board meeting agenda at