A Cabinet report has revealed that Suffolk County Council is forecasting an overspend of £10.2m on their 2017/18 revenue budget, just as the administration is gearing up for even harsher spending cuts in the next financial year.
Councillors from the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group are growing increasingly concerned at the financial situation in Suffolk, with the latest forecasts show that, unless major changes occur, the Council’s finances are not sustainable in the long-term. The majority of the predicted overspend is within Adult and Community Services (£2.3m) and Children’s Services (£6.4m).
LDGI Group Leader David Wood commented:
“As opposition councillors, we have been warning the administration for years that the Council’s financial strategy is simply not sustainable. Once again, a budget overspend is being predicted, and we think it’s about time that the administration makes some fundamental changes and comes up with some real innovative solutions to this challenge. Otherwise, it’s the most vulnerable members of our county who are going to suffer the consequences.”
Like local authorities across the country, Suffolk County Council has had to make significant savings in response to cuts in funding from central government. Demand for services, however, has continued to grow.
The issue here is one of chronic underfunding by the Conservative Government, whose austerity policies have seen grants and funding for local authorities slashed in recent years. But, Suffolk County Council hasn’t helped. The Council has agreed it needs to be innovative about income generation, but disappointingly this income has failed to materialise.
In the coming weeks, the Conservative administration will finalise their 2018/19 budget proposals. Once again, it is likely that there will be severe spending cuts as the Council looks to save even more money. Yet these budget forecasts suggests that the administration’s policies are failing to achieve the savings they expect, whilst harming Suffolk’s most vulnerable residents as vital services are reduced ever further.
Cabinet paper available here. Refer to Agenda Item 11: 2017/18 Forecast Revenue and Capital Spending.