Wiltshire Council cuts spending again in bid to avoid £8million to £10million black hole

Written by Tony Millett on .

The cover of Wiltshire Council's 2016-2017 budget bookThe cover of Wiltshire Council's 2016-2017 budget bookLATER NEWS:  Wiltshire Council have now announced that "As a result of implementing measures the projected overspend of up to £10million is now £3.5million."

Marlborough.News has seen part of a document sent out by Wiltshire Council's two corporate directors.  It is headlined: "2016/17 budget pressures - immediate action required - and the four year deal".

In their 'message' the directors tell councillors and staff that this year the Council is heading for an overspend of between £8 million and £10 million: "The projected overspend is due to increasing demand for services - particularly adult care, safeguarding children and highway maintenance."

They continue: "A balanced budget has to be achieved this year.  Next year - 2017/18 - we will, again, have significant pressures.  At least £15 million of savings will need to be found - this figure is based on this year's budget (2016/127) being balanced."  So, if this year's projected overspend is not solved, next year's cuts will be worse still.

The 'immediate actions' to reach a balanced budget this year include:
•    cutting 'all service net budgets by a further 1.5 per cent'
•    removal of credit and procurement cards and a large number of petty cash accounts
•    cutting the number of Council staff authorised to approve spending from 271 to 170
•    "Reduce, monitor and limit recruitment...to essential posts only" - budgets for vacant posts will be taken as savings
•    Homeworkers will have printers taken away and will be allowed no further supplies of print cartridges and paper.

And there this part of the document Marlborough.News has seen stops.  So we do not know whether these measures will produce the necessary balanced budget.  Nor do we find out the relevance to this state of affairs of 'the four year deal'.

These new cuts and economies are on top of the planned and agreed £30 million of savings to be made during the current financial year.  The projected overspend should be seen in light of the Council's overall annual budget of about £900 million.

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