Flintshire Council ‘struggling to cope’ with spiralling cost of frontline services
Flintshire Council says it is ‘struggling to cope’ with the spiralling cost of frontline services as a new report reveals it is facing a major overspend.
Current predictions show the local authority is expected to go over budget by around £3m this financial year.
A senior figure said high increases in demand on children’s services and school transport were to blame for the deficit, including an extra £2m required to pay for youngsters to be looked after by private providers.
It comes as councils across Wales say they are becoming more reliant on external placements to manage the growing number of children entering the care system.
Despite the significant overspend, Flintshire’s chief executive Colin Everett defended the authority’s record in managing its finances.
He also issued a warning that it could no longer handle reductions to its funding from national government, with reserves of only £1.9m available to plug the gap.
He said: “For the first time in many years we are looking at a major overspend in our overall budget in-year.
“The trend in the sharp increase in demand for complex children’s cases, particularly where looked after children are in our care, is a national one and demand here is particularly high.
“We have been warning that councils are becoming unsustainable with such inadequate government funding after a decade of budget cuts.
“Flintshire is financially well run and this is a strength recognised by the Wales Audit Office as our external auditors.
“However, the challenging financial situation is becoming beyond our control as we try to keep pace with the increasing demands for services with less money at our disposal.”
The figures were outlined in a report set to be be considered by members of the authority’s corporate resources scrutiny committee on Thursday.
An additional overspend of close to £1.3m has also been highlighted in relation to transport.
The council said much of the amount related to the cost of providing school travel.
It added that work was ongoing to bring the amount down to the original estimate of £930,000.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).
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