Talks on overspend that will hit reserves

KIRKLEES Council have reported a £6 million overspend for the current year which officials have said could leave reserves at a “critical level” as soon as 2017. 

Cabinet members met last week to discuss the potential budget deficit for the first quarter of the 2016/17 financial year.

Councillors received a report showing that the use of reserves is currently running at a faster rate than planned.

Council leader Coun David Sheard said: “This quarterly report is part of our normal process to keep a strong grip on spending and understand where our pressures are, we need to act quickly to tackle the overspend.

“This accelerated use of reserves is not sustainable, and would leave reserves at a critical level by April 2017.

“But this means the transformative change we need to achieve is more important than ever.”

The full council agreed a budget using £17 million of reserves for this financial year to “smooth the transformation of services” needed to make the necessary savings.

However, the report shown to cabinet members last week showed that current spending levels would result in a two per cent overspend on the £311 million budget – which would put even more strain on council services.

Currently, approved budget plans aim to make savings of £31 million over the next two years.

However, the council is still prediciting a struggle to balance the books with a predicted shortfall of £16 million in 2017/18 which will rise to £38 million by 2019/20.

Coun Sheard admitted there was a lot of work ahead for Kirklees as they aim to make the necessary savings.

He said: “Services right across the council are busy changing what they do and how they do it as we move to new council.

“Many services have already made significant changes and we are well on the way – but we have much more still to do and we have to do it quickly.

“We will continue to monitor the progress and spending against the budget.

“Plans are being developed to reduce the predicted overspend and I have asked for detailed reports to be presented to cabinet, on a quarterly basis, to monitor spend and progress against these plans.”

The council blamed cuts in government grants and a difficulty in making planned savings in adult and children’s social care for the losses.

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