Derbyshire County Council approves measures to reduce £46m budget gap

Derbyshire County Council

Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet has today, Thursday 21st September, announced approved a series of cost control measures in an effort to address a £46 million budget shortfall for the current financial year.

The new measures include postponing new projects and delaying the signing of new contracts, reducing overtime and freezing recruitment.

Council Leader Councillor Barry Lewis said: “We are taking immediate action to control our spending.

“This is not a bankruptcy situation for this council, far from it. However, to be completely clear with our residents, employees and partners, this is a difficult situation and we must rise to the challenge.

“We have always been a well-managed, efficient and financially stable council which has balanced our books, maintained a robust level of reserves and been able to support vital, high quality, value-for-money services for our residents across Derbyshire.

“However, the reality is that the financial pressures we are facing, along with other councils and households, are now greater than ever experienced before, with most of these pressures being simply outside our control.

“The decision taken today by Cabinet is the first step on our journey to get our finances back on the right track.

“Our employees are now tasked with looking at every penny they spend, to make sure it is essential and value for money.”

The cost-cutting measures announced include:

•    A recruitment freeze – although some jobs will continue to be recruited to where they are essential, such as social care front line positions.

•    Reducing agency staff

•    Reducing overtime and additional hours worked by employees

•    Reviewing all agency staff

•    No non-essential conferences, travel or training

•    Only health and safety repairs on Derbyshire County Council owned properties

•    Reducing spend on print, IT equipment and stationery

•    Delaying any contracts not yet signed

•    Postponing any projects that are still in the planning stage

External forces affecting the council’s budgets include higher than anticipated inflation which impacts all areas of council expenditure including fuel, energy and materials costs.

High inflation has also impacted on the demand for council services. This is particularly the case in adult social care and children’s services where the council has seen continued increased demand for these vital services.

In addition, the expected 2023/24 pay award for council staff which is agreed at a national level is a significant financial pressure for the council and must be met from local council budgets.

Across the country, many councils are experiencing similar issues, many of which are much more severe than at Derbyshire.

Derbyshire’s proposed approach is to take early action, show prudent financial management and to contain these external pressures and avoid more serious future consequences.

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