Shropshire Council’s funding shortfall hits £23 million

A funding shortfall of £23 million remains despite Shropshire Council approving its financial strategy.

Shropshire Council's Shirehall headquarters in Shrewsbury
Shropshire Council's Shirehall headquarters in Shrewsbury

Members of the cabinet were asked to consider the authority’s financial strategy for the next five years at a meeting at Shirehall yesterday.

It was passed, but leader Councillor Peter Nutting was forced to deny claims by leader of the Labour party, Councillor Alan Mosley, that the council is “collapsing”.

The document outlines the extent of the council’s shortfall in funding, which increases from £36,467,901 in 2018/19 to £59,270,364 in 2022/23.

Under the plans the council has arrangements to cover the shortfall for the next two years using a number of measures, including about £9m of reserves.

Councillor Mosley said: “This strategy gives a message to Shropshire residents to be aware that their council is collapsing.

"It’s a deplorable situation that the council is in. Reading between the lines, there are draconian cuts and high risk means to fill an increasing gap.”

But Councillor Nutting hit back, describing the claim as “nonsense”.

He added: “This council is not going to collapse. It’s in good stead and it’s showing that within three years, we will have balanced the budget.”

The strategy also paves the way for a council tax increase of 5.99 per cent.

The increase would be made up of 2.99 per cent for the council, as permitted by government, added together with three per cent, to pay solely for the costs of providing adult social care.

The government has increased the amount councils are allowed to raise for their own services without calling a referendum from 1.99 per cent to 2.99 per cent.

The council tax rise will have to be approved by the entire council next month.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Councillor Roger Evans, said the figures contained in the report were “catastrophic”.

“I’ve used the word catastrophic before and I’m going to use it again now,” he said. “The council is full of false promises. We were told the money is in safe hands. This is a bare bones report and I will be asking for a lot more information.”

The council says it can deliver up to £21.2m of savings by 2022/23.

The decision on the strategy means Councillor Nutting will be able to take his budget to a meeting of the full council to be approved on February 22.

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