County Hall bosses have identified ways of saving a further £12.32m for 2017/18 and following years, helping to reduce the overall funding gap from £148m to just over £146m over the four years to 2020/21.
But leaders have warned that the seemingly improved position mainly relates to the new savings, which are offset by many factors including the continued increasing demand in children’s social care. They also say the forecast cumulative gap, by the end of 2020/21, has increased from £398m to £411m, “as a result of a larger gap in earlier years”. Detailed documents to senior politicians within the council also warn that, while there will be reserve balances left in 2018/19, they will not be enough to set a balanced budget, and more savings will need to be found.
County Coun David Borrow, portfolio holder for finance and deputy leader of the authority, said: “These latest figures confirm that the county council continues to face an unprecedented financial challenge. While there have been some changes to the council’s financial situation, the underlying position remains stark. Even if we reduced spending to match the lowest spending councils in every service area we will still not have enough funding to cover even the statutory services that we are required to deliver.” by law.
“It was particularly disappointing that central government did not take the opportunity of the recent Autumn Statement to do anything to address the national funding crisis in social care.
Cabinet members are to be asked to approve the latest budget proposals.