A meeting of the full council is being asked to approve the budget for 2020/21 - a strategy which includes hefty relief for some council taxpayers, key changes in the care sector and a raft of improvement schemes.
A 3.9 per cent increase for council tax is proposed, along with a two per cent pay rise for council workers.
But a report, which will go before Thursday’s meeting, warns that while the council has been ‘prudent’ in preparing the budget, any extra pressures would trigger an urgent review.
The budget sets out spending of £172m which includes one-off investments totalling £19.4m, general capital investment of £10.4m, specific schemes worth £13.5m and £5m of borrowing earmarked to support the Glass Works development in the town centre.
The report said: “There is uncertainty around the level of resources available to town halls beyond 2020/21.
“Although we have taken a prudent approach on medium-term finance strategy and provided for known pressures, any extra pressures will need to be considered as part of future budgets.
“So members need to be aware that if those pressures can’t be contained, the balanced position is likely to deteriorate and need urgent review.”
This budget and a forecast for the following year contain significant increases in spending as a result of increased demand for council services. The report says these changes are already acute in adult and children’s services and create financial pressures.
And the position might also be affected by a promised government review of social care. “These areas need to be closely monitored,” says the report.
One of the flagship aspects of the budget are council tax discounts of up to 82.5 per cent for low-income households struggling to pay. The council says Universal Credit has had an ‘adverse impact’ on claimants paying council tax.
This has led to reduced collection rates, higher levels of arrears and increased use of enforcement action.
The reduction will help more than 12,000 households. The highest level of discount will be set at a maximum level of 82.5 per cent of the total liability, followed by 72.5 per cent, 50 per cent and 25 per cent.
The 3.9 per cent tax rise includes 1.9 per cent for general services - such as bin collections, roads and area councils - and two per cent ring-fenced for adult social care.
The ruling Labour group’s budget promises to deliver ‘significant investments in issues which matter the most to residents’, according to council leader Sir Steve Houghton.
Key changes will be made in the care sector from April - including a pay rise for workers from £8.20 to £9.72 an hour - in a bid to retain staff.
A training programme, dubbed Excellence In Care, will be adopted which has been designed to further careers in the industry and rid the sector of its high staff turnover rate.
“There are a lot of positives in this year’s budget but the thing I’m most proud of is helping those who need it the most,” said Sir Steve.
“Workers in the care sector work hard for low pay, providing a vital service, so it’s important they get a better deal. The pay rise and programme will hopefully encourage them to stay in the industry.
“We’re aware Universal Credit is a huge issue in Barnsley and a revamp of the benefit scheme is essential. It will depend on each household’s circumstances, but 12,000 who are struggling will benefit.
“It’s the first time in ten years we’ve been able to put a lot of investment back in and that’s down to the council being well-managed financially.
“We’ve listened to what people have told us and subsequently we’ve come up with significant priorities going forward. We’ve got through extremely hard times, times of severe austerity and cuts, so now it’s about moving forward and putting money back in where it really matters.”