Wiltshire’s Savings Have Grown by £15m

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2018’s budget papers indicated that £15m is needed to balance the budget in 2019 and 2020. Surprisingly, the budget papers show that the figure has leaped up to £27m.

To achieve the cuts, a plan of increasing revenue targets, cutting services, and improving efficiencies was made to help teams deliver the same services but on a tighter budget.

Increased savings for the year 2020 and 2021 were also outlined, and the council predicts £25m will be needed.

For Cllr Matthew Dean, the variance was “significant”, and it is to be agreed on February 26 at a full council meeting.

He added: “We were told a year ago that in this financial year we would need to make £15m and now we need to make £27m.

“I would suggest the change has come from increasing demand from adult social care and children services and challenges around not delivering this transformational agenda. I wonder why you thought that gap has opened up to such a significant amount.”

Cllr Phillip Whitehead, a cabinet member for finance, said that while the figure really was significant, it was expected to change again by the following year as the council services will have new pressures.

Whitehead said: “If you ask me now if my figures for 2023/2024 were correct I would say no, this is a medium term financial plan. Yes we will see changes because factors will change but we budget every single day of the year.

“10 per cent of looked after children weren’t in the county five years ago and now 10 per cent have come from a different county. Could we have forecast that? No. Next year what I said just now will be wrong.

“We are working to make it more transparent so every year we can be more accurate again.”

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