Tories have criticised the Labour-led Telford & Wrekin Council for using more than £4 million of its contingency purse to cover an overspend on services.
The council, which has been forced to make £19 million of cuts, is forecast to be within budget for revenue spending at the end of the financial year. But it had to dip into its contingency fund to cover a predicted £4.4m overspend on some services.
Councillor Bill McClements, cabinet member for resources, said £7 million had been budgeted into the contingency fund for unforeseen expenditure.
But speaking at last night’s cabinet meeting, former council leader Councillor Andrew Eade said he was very worried.
He said: “This will be the biggest use of contingency money in the history of this council.
“This is a huge black hole in the budget. We’re talking about £4.4 million here.
“How on earth are you going to get control of this? This is a budget disaster.”
But Councillor McClements accused Councillor Eade of playing politics.
He said: “When we were doing the budget last year we decided to make the contingency bigger and squeeze the budget.
“If Councillor Eade wants to criticise maybe he could criticise the Chancellor for imposing the cuts.”
Councillor Paul Watling said it was better than hitting services.
“The use of the contingency is to protect frontline services,” he said.
“We’ve made £15 million of cuts already and we need to make sure that the people who are most vulnerable are not affected.”
And Councillor Shaun Davies said: “It’s easy to have a cloud cuckoo land budget but it’s much harder to say where the savings are. We have got to work together to lobby our government to come through this.”
The remaining £2.6 million of the contingency fund will be used to offset inflation.
Councillor McClements said he expects further cuts when the Government announces its future funding settlement for local government later this year.