Posted: Fri 8th Sep 2023

Cuts loom at Flintshire council as it looks to urgently plug £14m budget shortfall

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Sep 8th, 2023

Flintshire County Council is facing a £14m black hole in its budget for the next financial year and needs to “urgently consider further cost reductions” in order to balance the books.

This comes after members of the Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee were informed in July of an additional budget requirement of approximately £32 million for the upcoming financial year.

Efforts have been made since then to pinpoint potential funding solutions.

Currently, these solutions amount to around £18 million, which still leaves the council with a £14 million budget gap.

Gary Ferguson, the Corporate Finance Manager, highlighted the gravity of the situation, stating, “The council clearly has a major budget challenge for the financial year 2024/25 if there is no movement in the indicative uplift in the settlement of 3.1% from Welsh Government.

“At this stage the amount remaining to be found to reach a legal and balanced budget is £14m and the council will need to urgently consider further cost reductions of significant scale to bridge that gap as a matter of priority.”

However, the budgetary concerns don’t end there. Several risks have been identified that could exacerbate the strain.

The homelessness service, for instance, has seen a surge in numbers seeking support.

This has led to a projected overspend of £2.4 million in the current financial year, a figure that has risen over the summer months.

Other areas of concern include ongoing pressures in social care and the review of the Waste Strategy, both of which are expected to impact costs

Additionally, the outcome of pay awards remains uncertain as they are still under negotiation and will be agreed upon nationally.

Councillor Paul Johnson, the Cabinet Member for Finance, expressed the council’s intention to lobby the Welsh Government for a more favourable settlement.

He said, “Flintshire County Council will be continuing to make strong representations to Welsh Government for a better settlement.”

Recognising the broader challenges, he added, “We acknowledge and appreciate that Welsh Government itself also has a challenging budget situation to deal with.”

In light of these financial challenges, Cllr Johnson hinted at the need for radical changes, suggesting that the council might have to “consider measures which could include the radical development and transformation of the services we provide.”

As the council navigates these financial waters, the focus remains on finding sustainable solutions to ensure the continued provision of essential services to the residents of Flintshire.

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