Difficult decisions follow Shropshire Council’s budget consultation
More than 1,000 responses have been collected during Shropshire Council’s 6-week budget consultation, which asked residents, staff, businesses and other stakeholders to share their views to inform very difficult choices in its financial plans.
Like councils up and down the country, Shropshire Council is facing unprecedented financial pressure from ever growing demand for its services, especially in adults’ and children’s social care and housing.
For example, the number of children in local authority care in Shropshire has doubled since 2018 and an ever-growing number of adults now depend on council-funded care. Social care accounts for nearly 80% of the council’s budget.
High rates of inflation over a long period has made these services more expensive than ever to run, especially in such a large, rural and sparsely populated area like Shropshire
In the 2023/24 financial year, the council has already delivered spending reductions of £41.3m, the most it has ever achieved, but as the position for 2024/25 has become clear, it is evident that further reductions of more than £50m must now be made.
This in on top of the 4.99% council tax rise that the Government assumes councils such as Shropshire will make, which will add an average of £1.57 per week for a county household.
The consultation set out the council’s plans to close its budget gap and asked the public to share their priorities as it considers difficult decisions.
Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for finance, corporate resources and communities said:
“We have received a record number of responses to our budget consultation this year. The public are all too aware of the pressure facing local authorities all over the UK and we have been clear about the impact in Shropshire.
“Although we have successfully delivered over £40m of spending reductions in 2023/24, we have said for some time that the impact of inflation and demand pressures has not gone away.
These factors have worsened our projections for 2024/25 and it will come as no surprise that we will therefore need to make very difficult decisions to overcome our financial challenge and become a modern and sustainable organisation for the future.
“The decisions that we have to make will have significant impact for communities across Shropshire who will see some major changes and some well-used services reducing or stopping altogether.
“ We do not want to do this but we have no choice given the scale of challenge we face. However, we have to be financially sustainable and live within our means
“We will be providing more details about those services proposed to be affected in the next two weeks and significant changes will also require public consultation.
“Thank you to everybody who took the time to share their views.”
Feedback from the consultation will go to Cabinet on 21 February 2024.