Council's deficit fears remain despite £2million cuts to balance city's books - The Worcester Observer

Council's deficit fears remain despite £2million cuts to balance city's books

Worcester Editorial 15th Dec, 2023   0

COUNCIL chiefs have revealed more than £2 million of savings have been found by Worcester City Council over the last ten months, after it previously identified a funding gap of £2.25million for the 2024-25 financial year.

The figures from earlier this year also pointed to that gap widening to £2.76million by 2025-26, due to rising costs that include a 94 per cent jump in gas and electricity bills and a 20 per cent increase in fuel costs for bin lorries and other vehicles.

Thanks to a major savings plan, the City Council is now in a position to set a balanced budget for 2024-25, ensuring essential services like bin collections, street cleaning, planning and housing can continue to be delivered for Worcester residents.

Joint leader Coun Marjory Bisset said:

“Council officers and members have been working hard against a background of other authorities declaring bankruptcy, and we remain committed to pulling out all the stops to maintain services for Worcester.

“I would like to thank all the City Council staff and my fellow councillors for getting us to a place where we are able to set a balanced budget for the year ahead.”

A report to be considered by the Policy and Resources Committee on Tuesday (December 19) sets out the council’s current financial position, laying the ground for it to agree a proposed net budget of £12.6million when the full Council meets in February.

Before then, individual committees will scrutinise the proposals in the budget report.

The savings plan, which has included a major programme of voluntary redundancies among council staff, will deliver an annual saving of £2.3million by 2026-27.

For 2024-25 the council will potentially dig into its reserves for £378,000 to keep the books balanced. It is awaiting of the Government’s grant settlement, expected later this month, and a final assessment of the remaining budget gap will be presented to a meeting of the full Council in February.

The council will continue to look for further savings in the coming months and years, as its long-term forecasts continue to show a potential deficit of £2.4million by 2028.

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