Council reports budget overspend of almost £10 million in first quarter of 2023-24
Lewis Smith, local democracy reporter
Bridgend council has published a report that shows a projected overspend of almost £10 million during the first quarter of the 2023-24 financial year.
Councillors in attendance at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday (July 18), heard that expenditure up until June 30 was projected to be around £9.727 million over the expected budget at this point – made up of a £12.788 million net overspend on directorates, and a net under spend of £3.061 million on council-wide budgets.
The projected overspend is reported as being “primarily due to ongoing pressures within the social services and wellbeing directorate,” as well as other pressures with the home to school transport budget.
Bridgend’s total net revenue budget for 2023-24 is worth £342.334 million, with the overall projected position at June 30, 2023 now predicted to be at a net overspend of £9.727 million.
Several members expressed severe concerns over the current situation with the budget, with Cllr John Spanswick of Brackla urging decision-makers to think twice before spending every penny from now on.
As part of the council’s performance management framework, budget projections are reviewed regularly by officers and reported to cabinet for assessment on a quarterly basis.
While discussing the over spend within the social services and wellbeing directorate, the latest report read: “Whilst budget growth of £8.174 million was approved by council as part of the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for 2023-24, the directorate continues to see an increase in demand and the budget growth confirmed is currently insufficient to meet the increase in demand with current projections showing a £11.065 million overspend in 2023-24.
“Further consideration will be needed to be given by council to the sustainable resource required specifically in children’s services to improve the quality of outcomes for children and families in Bridgend. There is a projected overspend on home to school transport of £1.3 million.”
This could now lead to what deputy leader Jayne Gebbie described as some “difficult decisions,” in order to address the pressures that officers said were also being felt by a number of other local authorities across Wales.
Council leader Huw David said it was important the limit of council resources were not surpassed moving forward, with a group now being set up to support the social services directorate.
He said: “We will be convening a task and finish group that specifically looks at the financial pressures and challenges within social services, and try to provide some efficient support for that services and it’s on-going journey of remodelling and managing within the financial constraints that we are facing.”
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