Shropshire Star

Progress being made but 'absolutely no room for error' in council's multi-million pound saving goal

Shropshire Council has said progress has been made as the final figures for the budget show the council's overspend is "almost half of what had been expected".


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In January, Shropshire Council had predicted a £14m overspend as the authority battled with what they said was increased demand for essential services and higher costs.

But the authority has said that the final figures have shown that the overspend is almost half of what was expected, having been reduced to £7.9m by the end of March.

They have said that the steps taken to meet the demand for services in different ways, including investing in early help and prevention to meet residents’ needs earlier, have all helped the authority to reach a better-than-expected position and retain higher levels in its reserves.

At the end of March 2024 that stood at £8.2m, an amount it can carry forward into the new financial year.

During the 2023/24 financial year, the council said it has made over £41m of savings, which it said was "more than it has ever made before".

However, the Medium Term Financial Strategy agreed by Full Council on February 29 includes a plan to make further savings of £62.5m.

Shropshire Council said that the first monthly report shows they are making "good progress" with over 15 per cent of savings already been delivered or projected to be delivered.

Plans are in place for another £38m of savings, while the remaining £14m is "the subject of ongoing work, but finalised plans have not yet been signed off".

The council said that they expect to remain "in budget" through the coming year.

Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for finance, corporate resources and communities, said: “The outturn report clearly shows an exceptional savings delivery for the 2023/24 financial year, more than the council has ever achieved before, and is the result of robust reporting, a clear plan and hard work by officers.

"We have also increased our reserves, although this is still far below what is needed for a council of our size and there is absolutely no room for error in our plans to deliver even more savings this year.

“We face a huge challenge, mainly from the effects of rising demand for our services, particularly social care. There will be very difficult decisions we have never wanted to make and we know there will be an impact for our communities and staff.

"Some of these are already out for consultation and more will follow soon. However, the systems we have put in place for monthly reporting mean we are better placed than ever to track our progress against this very challenging outlook.”

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