Somerset Council facing £24m overspend, unless savings made

Somerset County Council is facing a £24 million overspend this financial year, as a result of expensive social care costs and a reduction in government budgets.

The forecasted overspend is almost double the deficit of last year’s figure, and the council has been urged to make significant savings in order to reduce the debt.

While the council has not yet exceeded its budget, the warning arrives as a half-year forecast, cautioning managers about the potential impact of overspending.

A 10-point plan has been sent out to the authority’s workforce which includes a recruitment freeze, a review of current staffing levels and voluntary redundancies. It also advised sourcing a way to spend less money on agency staff.

Independent county councillor, Mike Rigby said: "We've seen these sorts of plans in previous years and to be fair to them they've had some success if your only measure of success is bringing your spending down within the budget.

"But that's part of the reason why we've got children's services in the inadequate rating for three years."

Rigby warned that balancing the books meant the council could not provide ‘the services that the people of Somerset need’.

Pat Flaherty, chief executive of the Somerset CC, commented: Staff are used to the fact that we've cut budgets year on year, unfortunately that's the territory we've had to be in.

"Our staff know that we look for efficiencies but this is not any more worrying than previous years.”

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