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Funding gap of nearly £57 million identified in Shropshire Council's five year budget

By Aimee Jones | Bridgnorth | Politics | Published:

The extent of Shropshire Council's financial woes have been revealed in a new report which shows a funding gap of nearly £57 million over the next five years.

While setting out the financial strategy for 2020/21 through to 2024/25, the authority has identified a major funding hole which it has said is due to a lack of support from the Government.

The council expects to spend £605.53m in the coming 12 months which exceeds the total funding anticipated of £575.46m - leaving a funding gap to be resolved.

Almost £19m of savings across all areas of the council have been proposed in a bid to produce a balanced budget in 2020/21, but it is anticipated that the funding gap will increase each year over the next five years unless additional funding or savings can be identified.

By 2024/25, the funding gap is expected to rise to £56,914,559, according to a report by the council's director of finance, James Walton.

He said much of the financial worries stem from a reduced amount of Government funding, coupled with the rise in the number of people needing adult social care.

The report which will go before full council next week said: "Government funding for Shropshire Council has fallen year on year. This is a fact that cannot be disputed or avoided.

'Unsustainable'

"The taxpayers of Shropshire are required to fund a greater and greater amount and proportion of the resources the council needs to operate every year.

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"At the same time, the cost of delivering services increases each year. It is well documented that adult social care costs in Shropshire are growing at an unsustainable rate. With reduced funding from Government other service areas have to be cut to fund this growth.

"We are lobbying Government for a funding settlement that is fairer for all local authorities. We believe that more funding, particularly in the areas of social care, in necessary on a national scale."

He said there is a considerable amount of uncertainly surrounding the coming financial year and beyond, but there is a longer term plan for the council to become more commercial with the aim of looking for more opportunities to increase its income and reduce the impact of funding reductions.

The report says it is hoped that the three shopping centres Shropshire Council purchased in 2018 for £52m will safeguard ongoing returns.

The council also intends to continue to invest in housing, health and care hubs in local communities such as the Paul’s Moss scheme in Whitchurch.

Councillors will be asked a the meeting on Thursday to approve the budget for 2020/21 and note the funding gap.

Aimee Jones

By Aimee Jones
@aimeejones_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's Shrewsbury office, covering Shrewsbury, North Shropshire and South Shropshire.

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