MIL-OSI UK Cities: Council report highlights continued finance pressures

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Source: City of Coventry

Coventry Councillors will receive a report next week highlighting a forecast £8.5m council overspend for the end of the financial year April 2023 to end of March 2024.

The report – to be considered at the Council’s Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 13 February – is based on detailed analysis of spending and income up to the end of December 2023, called a quarter three monitoring report.

Cllr Richard Brown, Cabinet Member for Finance at Coventry City Council, says that the underlying position is a lot worse than the projected overspend of £8.5m.

He said:

“It’s absolutely vital that the Council continues to do what it always has done, and that is strict budget management.

“The projected overspend could be a lot higher than £8.5m but we have carried out a range of measures since April 2023 to make savings.

“That’s why looking ahead to the forthcoming Budget process for 2024/25, we are likely to be forced to make some difficult policy choices especially in areas that do not have a strict statutory basis.

“The measures to manage down the overspend include things like recruitment controls; discretionary spending controls and alternative funding opportunities.”

The Council continues to face budget pressure in both Adults and Children’s social care, Housing, and Streetscene services which accounts for 79p in every pound that the Council spends.

Other smaller but still significant overspends are also being reported in Transportation and Highways, and Business Investment and Culture.

Financial pressures are being caused by a combination of continuing high levels of inflation, increased service demands, difficult conditions within social care markets and recruitment difficulties in some services.

Cllr Brown added:

“Inflation and increased service demands can be seen across a lot of Council services but in social care and housing this is having a massive impact. Lots of local authorities are having problems across their social care. The numbers, cost and complexity of both adult and children’s social care is a huge challenge.

“Housing and managing homelessness is also causing rising costs. There’s been a 40 per cent increase in the numbers of people and families we have needed to place in temporary accommodation in June 2023 compared to the previous year – although this has settled a little.

“Here in Coventry, we continue to lobby the government to say, ‘enough is enough’. The message coming from other Council’s is exactly the same. The funding allocated by government is not enough for Councils to deliver fair and effective services for local people.

“I won’t apologise for stating again that Coventry City Council is receiving £31m less than the average local authority every year. We are at a disadvantage not just due to underfunding but because of unfair funding, and that means the Council and our partners and residents have to deal with the consequences.” 

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