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Schools overspend puts council £5.9m in the red

29 Jun 2024 2 minute read
Cllr Jason McLellan (inset) Denbighshire County Council Headquarters. Photo Arwel Parry, CC BY-SA3 via Wikimedia Commons.

Richard Evans, local democracy reporter

A struggling county council took £676K from its savings to cover an overspend of its budget in 2023/24 –  veering into the red by £5.9m in total.

In a report presented to Denbighshire council’s cabinet this week, the final position on service and corporate budgets is an overspend of £513K.

But the council also failed to recover £163K in council tax bills.

The report also highlighted that schools overspent by £5.258m resulting in a total budget overspend of £5.934m.

‘Demand pressures’

A statement from Denbighshire’s chief financial officer read: “The substantial level of overspend across services is of concern, and despite significant investment going into specific service areas in recent years, the demand pressures remain for these services. All services were asked to find in-year savings by ceasing non-essential spending and delaying expenditure where possible.

“This approach, along with corporate contingencies not being required, was successful in mitigating against the increasing cost pressures across the council and reduced the level of overspend from that projected.

“The action in year to help reduce the overall pressure has meant that we have been able to fund the overspend from the budget mitigation reserve and keep the level of unearmarked reserves above the £5m level that we view as a prudent level to cope with unforeseen financial pressures.”

Denbighshire’s leader Cllr Jason McLellan said the council’s budget could be greatly affected by just one family in need.

“As always on the financial report, it is a reflection of the pressures we are under, the difficult financial circumstances that are out there and that we find ourselves in,” he said.

“It is heartening to hear that the budget control measures have worked in some departments. So that’s good. That’s obviously working.

“The budget in those high-risk areas, which are children’s services and adult social care and for those who attended the workshop, I think that gave us a better understanding of the huge pressures.”

He added: “Obviously I can’t talk about individual cases, but one child, one family, can leave a huge dent in the budget in the overspend. It is as simple as that.”

The cabinet noted the report.


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