ANGER has erupted after a 4.99 per cent tax rise was agreed by Bradford Council – plus a pay increase for staff.

The 2021-22 budget will not feature any major cuts to services or jobs.

However, there will be a 1.99 per cent hike in council tax and a three per cent social care surcharge.

And council staff will receive a two per cent pay rise.

The Labour budget involves dipping into reserves to the tune of £6.4 million, as well as the council tax increase.

There will be a delay to planned welfare rights cuts of £844,000. Proposed youth services savings of over half a million pounds will be scrapped and an extra £600,000 will be invested in street cleaning.

The Housing First programme, a scheme to help the homeless in the district find stable accommodation, will get a base budget of £360,000.

Council leader, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, described the budget as one that would give people in the district “hope”.

But anger was voiced by the Conservative group, whose alternative budget would see basic council tax frozen and an adult social care precept of 1.5 per cent.

Councillor Mike Pollard, the group's finance spokesman, said: "We recognise that this last year has been a financial nightmare for most households throughout Bradford district and indeed the nation – with the incomes of many people reduced by the loss of their employment, having their hours reduced or being furloughed.

"We feel this is not the time to significantly increase council tax for the residents of the district."

He told the meeting that “apocalyptic” predictions made last year that the authority could face a £60 million budget gap due to Covid had not emerged thanks to Government grants and support.

The Conservative group said its budget included an additional £350,000 to support young people with their physical and mental wellbeing following the pandemic and £600,000 for communities so smaller local issues could be dealt with quickly "without council bureaucracy".

Councillor Pollard added it was wrong to introduce the planned pay rise for council staff when so many residents faced financial uncertainty. He said: “It is good for council staff, but not as good for households in the district that don’t have a member on the council pay roll.”

And the Conservative group leader, Worth Valley councillor Rebecca Poulsen, said: "We would love to pay public sector staff more, they do work hard. But can you look a retail worker in the eye and say public sector staff are going to get a pay rise – and it is your tax that will pay for it?"

Councillor Hinchcliffe pointed out that local government support from national government was not guaranteed beyond the summer, and she told Councillor Pollard: “Your budget is risky in the extreme. The council tax aspect is a political sleight of hand. Were you in power you would not be able to mess around with council tax like that. Most councils, including Conservative ones, are having to put up council tax. Your plan will cost £4m this year, and every year. That is £40m over ten years. Where you’re finding that money from, you’re not telling us."

In relation to council workers' pay, she said staff had seen a relative pay cut over the years due to a lack of increases. “Don’t try and turn public sector staff against private sector staff," she added.

The Liberal Democrats' alternative budget proposed extra investment in green projects and social care.

The Green Party’s proposals included a huge investment in environmental proposals such as decarbonisation and dealing with illegal air quality levels in parts of the district.

Labour’s budget was voted through, with 49 councillors voting to support it, 20 against and seven abstaining.