THURROCK Council spending for the first three months of 2017/18 has been presented at last week’s Cabinet meeting (Wednesday 13 September).
As part of the quarterly review, the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Cllr Shane Hebb, has also detailed how the council’s plans for delivering a balanced budget, and the wider aspirations of self-sufficiency, were looking.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Hebb said: “Just last year, we were looking at a £4m overspend in the children’s and education budget, this year that is down by 75%. Despite the £1m children’s social services pressure, and some more pressure in the waste contract spending area, Cabinet and I are absolutely confident that we will do what we did last year – be balanced, more resilient and yards closer to our self-sufficient aspirations.”.
Cllr Hebb also reported back on assessments completed of the council’s financial health now, and on its future plans.
In a report from the council’s external auditors, Ernst & Young have reported an unqualified opinion on the council’s value for money assessment and the budget setting process. The report states: “We have completed testing on a sample of proposed savings and have found that the implementation of savings plans are properly managed and monitored. The Council’s budget setting process is deemed to be robust, with sensibly prudent assumptions applied to uncertain income streams and future expenditure.”
Cllr Hebb added: “In our efforts to continually improve, we also instigated a Finance Peer Review which interviewed staff and councillors from all parties. The results of the review is that we must keep doing what we are doing, and that we are on the right path to becoming a financially independent council – there isn’t a thing we have been recommended to stop doing”.
Cabinet also re-affirmed their intention to maintain the cross-party Council Spending Review (CSR) budget setting forum.
“Our aspirations are standing the financial tests of the most reputable of due diligence bodies.” adds Cllr Hebb. “We will deliver a balanced 2017/18, and the CSR will have a critical role in shaping our self-sufficient pathway; where our council lives within it’s means, provides the services it needs to provide and is prudent with taxpayer’s pounds along the way.”