Facing the financial challenge


Business people or doctor talking to customer and using laptop at office room.Financial sustainability is the top priority, key councillors at Somerset County Council heard this week.

On Monday a meeting of the authority’s Cabinet received an update on finances and projected budget pressures for the rest of the financial year.

Leader of the Council, Councillor David Fothergill, made it clear that while there are big pressures, work is underway to make sure the authority lives within its means.

“It’s a difficult position and one that is getting a proportionate and immediate response,” he said. “We have to reduce overspends and make savings and we are getting to grips with this.

“We are not poised to issue a 114 notice, we are not in that territory.

“Let’s not forget, this report looks at projections for a whole year based on just two months and these figures always fall, but it is an additional spur for us to make sure we achieve what we need to achieve.

He added later: “Achieving financial stability is our overriding priority and it has never been harder. As I’ve said before, I believe the way in which local government is funding is broken – there just isn’t the money in the system to provide everything the public expects or that we want to deliver.”

Monday’s Revenue Report showed an overall net projected overspends of £12m, a considerable proportion of which is in Children’s services – much due to the cost of external residential and foster care placement for children in care.

The Cabinet agreed to transfer of £5m from contingency funds – which are separate to reserves and replenished each year – to the children’s budget to meet some of these pressures.