Controversial cuts to Warwickshire County Council’s long-term financial plans shelved in a £5 million reshuffle

Draft changes to the council’s medium term financial strategy highlighted £69.4 million worth of proposed savings.
Some of the most controversial cuts in Warwickshire County Council’s long-term financial plans have been shelved in a £5 million reshuffle. Pictured: Shire Hall in Warwick, which is home to Warwickshire County CouncilSome of the most controversial cuts in Warwickshire County Council’s long-term financial plans have been shelved in a £5 million reshuffle. Pictured: Shire Hall in Warwick, which is home to Warwickshire County Council
Some of the most controversial cuts in Warwickshire County Council’s long-term financial plans have been shelved in a £5 million reshuffle. Pictured: Shire Hall in Warwick, which is home to Warwickshire County Council

Some of the most controversial cuts in Warwickshire County Council’s long-term financial plans have been shelved in a £5 million reshuffle.

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Draft changes to the council’s medium term financial strategy (MTFS) – the five-year rolling plan that is refreshed annually to ensure the books balance – highlighted £69.4 million worth of proposed savings.

They included reducing the number of children and family centres, support for rural buses, housing support, school crossing patrols, plus the closure of three household waste centres and cutbacks on street lighting, work on roadside grass verges and winter road gritting.

All of those proposals are now omitted from the latest MTFS, published as part of the papers that lay out what the Conservative-led council proposes to do when the budget is set on Thursday, February 8.

Opposition parties can put forward amendments which will be debated on the day but major changes seem unlikely in light of the strain on local authority finances and the sizeable majority that the Tories have at Shire Hall.

A key area to be spared is the funding for domestic abuse and drug and alcohol services, a real bone of contention in last week’s meeting of cabinet.

This year’s annual report by director of public health Dr Shade Agboola centres around the theme of the prevention of domestic abuse and violence with recommendations that police, health partners and stakeholders work together to “create a safe and encouraging environment for victim survivors to report abuse” through “a plan of aligned and jointly prioritised actions”.

Dedicated resources and support for child victims to help mitigate the impact of abuse alongside greater integration with education and maternity services and those that work on suicide prevention were also advocated.

Incremental savings totalling £646,000 on the Domestic Violence Service, which were set to include counselling, therapy and outreach services, and the Drug and Alcohol Service’s non-statutory work, including detox services, had been due to kick in from April 2026 but have now disappeared.

A further £1 million cut to housing support has gone, as has the idea of reducing road gritting to the statutory minimum – A and B roads only – from 2028-29. The Early Years Service has also been spared savings that would have including a look at “staffing structure”.

However, there remain many moving parts to the complex beast that is the county’s annual budget setting and the bigger picture across those five years could – indeed is likely to – rest on other savings being achieved, and the current financial year shows that will not be easy.

Projections show that the council is set to achieve less than half of the £15 million worth of savings it planned to make across 2023-24, primarily due to increased demand in care, SEND and home-to-school transport services.

Still in the savings plan for 2024-25 is the target of reducing the cost of children’s care and services by almost £7 million, in part through “increased use of our internal children's homes and boarding and residential schools”, and £2 million worth of staffing costs across the children and families department.

More than £1.5 million is projected to be saved on home-to-school transport for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) “as a result of service/route redesign and the positive impact of the SEND Change and Inclusion Programme”, while the council plans to “rationalise the public health offer” to the tune of £1 million.

There are boosts to adult social care, including Warwickshire’s chunk of the £500 million boost from government, but it still projects saving around £6.7 million through programmes preventing need, self care and cost management of care provision.

The ability to see through these savings is likely to influence the outlook for the services spared cuts this time.