13/07/2022 - Permalink

New budget plan focuses on Shropshire Plan priorities while tackling inflation pressures  

Related topics: Corporate / Finance and budget

Shropshire Council has started to set out its financial plans for the next five years, that will see it focus its efforts on delivering the priorities set out in the Shropshire Plan (adopted by Full Council in May 2022). 

The Shropshire Plan sees the council focusing on ensuring we have a healthy population, supported by a healthy economy and environment, and a healthy, well-run council helping people live their best life in Shropshire. 

The Medium Term Financial Strategy Review 2022/23, which will be considered by Cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday 20 July, also highlights how inflation is hitting the council’s budget for this year, and the measures already being taken to respond to this.* It expects to save £8.5 million from its budget this year – but faces a gap of £27.5 million the following year. 

Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for finance and corporate resources, said:-

“This is all about getting us in the best place possible to ensure we can deliver on the goals we have set out in the Shropshire Plan.

“Yes we have a very steep hill to climb next year, now made even steeper due to inflation, but that will place us in a good position for the following years.

“We are now looking at proposals that will help us to do this, and will start bringing some of these ideas forward during the autumn, and provide local people with the opportunity to comment on this.

“Make no bones about it – this will be a difficult task. But we are in much better position now than we were in previous years because we’ve acted swiftly and decisively.

“A key to this will be doing all we can to promote a healthy population through a range of preventative measures and the support needed to keep people healthy, active and independent for as long as possible.

“Doing so will help reduce how much of our budget we devote to social care, and to focus more around ensuring that Shropshire as a place remains an attractive area to visit, and to live and work in.”

*Further explanation

When the council’s budget was set, just two days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, inflation was expected to be no more than 3% during the year.

The rapid increase in the rate of inflation since February 2022 – now running at 9.1% – is therefore considerably more than was anticipated when the budget was prepared.

The increase beyond what was expected is estimated to add a further £8.3 million cost pressure to the council’s current budget.

This figure includes the cost of staff pay, where the increase to the National Living Wage means quite large increases for the most junior staff, while more senior staff will see only limited increases. Also of concern is the anticipated pressure on wages in the care sector, which, coupled with the increased costs of fuel, food and utilities, is expected to lead to further costs for the council through its various supplier contracts.