Budget pressures increase on council

THURROCK Council will have to make £33 million savings in the four years from March next year — and is facing increasing pressures on this year’s budget too.

Cllr John Kent, Leader of the Council, said at Wednesday (6 July) evening’s meeting of the cabinet: “The situation is still difficult; not only are we having to look at around £33 million budget savings in the four years from next March — £12½ million of them will be in 2012/13 alone.”

A report to the meeting said there were increasing pressures on this year’s budget too.

Despite coming in under-budget last year and setting the 2011/12 budget in March, there were now new pressures totalling £5½ million on the council’s coffers — although alternative savings had been identified and reduced that figure to just £300,000.

Speaking afterwards, Cllr Kent said: “Decreasing central grants combined with extra demands on our services, especially in adult and children’s social care, has meant officers have had to work incredibly hard to keep any potential overspends in check.

“Luckily, last year we introduced a new and robust style of budget management and reporting which has enabled us to keep on top of things. It is still difficult, but we know what the pressures are and we are managing them — I’m confident it will be zero by March.

“We are also looking ahead. The introduction of a medium-term financial strategy means this council should never again face a multi-million pound overspend like it did a couple of years ago and it means we can budget for increasing our reserves too.”

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