Finance report shows almost 75% of spending reductions identified so far
In the first six months of the financial year, Shropshire Council has identified £38m of the £51.4m spending reductions that it must make by the end of March 2024.
Its quarter 2 financial report shows that an additional £8m spending reductions are expected to be confirmed over the third and fourth quarters, whilst the council’s prudent approach has seen it boost its general reserves from £7m to £27m.
The increase in reserves this year will allow it to cushion any remaining shortfall towards its target.
The report comes as widespread media coverage documents the unprecedented financial pressure faced by local authorities all over the country, with a high-profile Local Government Association (LGA) campaign calling on the Government for more clarity on reform to council budgets.
Increasing cost and demand for services, especially in adults’ and children’s social care, are highlighted as a universal concern for local councils and in Shropshire are estimated to add a pressure of at least £20.5m by the end of March 2025.
However, changes made in this financial year will allow it to start the next year on a more secure financial footing, with a council-wide programme to modernise and transform a number of services. These include:
- The ‘Best Start in Life’ project, working with new parents and families to give them skills and support to reduce the likelihood of their child becoming in need of care
- An ‘Early Help’ project for families, delivering timely support from family support workers before existing issues become more serious
- Working more closely with partners across the health and care system to identify and support the needs of people when they are discharged from a stay in hospital, helping people to recover and stay well in their own homes
- Making use of assistive technology to allow people to stay safely and independently in their own homes for longer
Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for finance and corporate resources said:-
“The spending reductions identified so far are greater than we have ever achieved before and are a testament to the rigour we have approached this challenge with.
“Through a comprehensive spending reductions programme, no stone has been left unturned as we look for ways to deliver the best value we can for the people of Shropshire.
“Whilst we remain under severe pressure, as many other councils do, we can already demonstrate the benefits of innovative and sector-leading approaches to service delivery.
“Ultimately, we are investing in prevention and long-term sustainability to ensure that the measures we take now continue to deliver rewards for Shropshire Council and for our residents far into the future.”
The second quarter financial monitoring report will go to the Council’s Transformation and Improvement Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet this month.