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Reporting delays cause concern following Council’s £6 million overspend

22 Nov 2023 2 minute read
Monmouthshire County Council offices. Photo by Jaggery, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Delays in reporting up-to-date information on spending has caused “concern” for councillors who want to keep an eye on a £6 million overspend.

Monmouthshire council has blamed increased demand and rising costs for it its current budget overspend. Balancing the books has only been made possible by making an additional £2 million worth of savings, on top of the £10 million that were already planned, and using its reserves.

 

Scrutiny

Details on how officers have responded to the overspend are included in the council’s budget monitoring report, the most recent of which has covered spending to the end of August. That was only presented to the council’s performance and overview committee at the council’s November 22 meeting.

Chairman Alistair Neill said: “For scrutiny to do its job we need to focus on as current information as possible. Three-month-old information is a concern.”

Councillor Neill said he was also concerned that the committee has had had to cancel a meeting planned for November 29, which would have considered September’s report, and will only get the chance to discuss it in January.

The council’s deputy chief executive Peter Davies acknowledged the report was being presented to the committee after it had been discussed by the cabinet and blamed the amount of work required for the delays.

 

The right thing to do

Monmouthshire’s predicted overspend was reported in July and the use of reserves, and additional savings, reduced the difference between the council’s costs, and its agreed budget, to a deficit of £124,000.

Mr Davies told the committee the use of reserves this year has meant he is now advising the council it won’t be able to make extensive use of reserves in its upcoming 2024/25 budget. The cabinet was told last week the budget would be set “without recourse to reserves”.

Mr Davies said: “That makes the challenge more difficult, but financially is the right thing to do, we need to bring the council back on a sustainable footing.”


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