Herefordshire Council is staring down a projected budget overspend of £13.5 million for the fiscal year 2023/24. A report set for Cabinet review on 28th September outlines immediate steps to cut this to £9.5 million. This financial stress comes despite a £193.3 million revenue budget, which includes £20 million planned for savings.
The council cites rising costs due to inflation, fuel prices, and an increasing demand for adult and children's social care as key contributors to the budget strain. Children and young people’s services alone face a £10.6 million budget pressure, even as improvement programmes are in progress.
To bring the budget back into line, the council is focusing on essential activities. Statutory services must continue, as well as maintaining the health and safety of staff, residents, and businesses. Immediate actions to relieve cost pressures include restricting the purchase of non-essential items, reducing interim and agency staff, and limiting the recruitment of permanent staff.
"A review of services is also underway to ensure the way they are delivered offers the best value for money," the report states. It adds that further action will be needed to meet the financial challenges and make certain that spending aligns with available resources.
Earlier this year, the Conservative council administration secured their local elections with a campaign focusing on fiscal responsibility. Their win formed a new Conservative council administration, which now faces the task of delivering on their financial pledges.