Warwick District Council faces anticipated shortfall of more than half a million pounds this financial year
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Warwick District Council is facing an anticipated shortfall of more than half a million pounds this financial year.
A report to cabinet – the panel of Green and Labour councillors in charge of services – revealed that the authority currently expects a £572,000 gap in the budget set for the financial year 2023-24 based on what happened in the opening three months.
Council budgets are made up of many moving parts with fluctuations in funding, need for services and staff requirements and costs altering income, expenditure or both.
The biggest variance is an expected £377,000 shortfall across the year relating to the council’s waste contract.
The report said: “When setting the budget for the waste contract, it was expected that the council would continue to receive income from the sale of dry recycling.
“As part of the new contract, the income from sales of dry waste is now offset against the per ton price, therefore this cost had already been incorporated into the core waste contract budget.”
The controversial relocation of council services from Riverside House, Leamington, to the Pump Rooms is currently expected to cost £322,000 more than originally planned for, while unfunded housing benefit due to homelessness is set to cost an extra £230,000.
There are more than £1.8 million of added costs but some of that is offset by more than £1.2 million in financial gains, including extra government grant for housing services and an increase in box office sales at Royal Spa Centre, Leamington.
Councillor Jonathan Chilvers (Green, Leamington Brunswick), the district’s portfolio holder for resources, said: “These quarter one figures are a projection for what would happen if no further work was done.
“It is an early flag to make sure we take early action to address anything that we need to. I think this is an important mechanism to make sure we are keeping an eye on the council’s finances.
“Each area has to be looked at individually, the service heads and individual officers are doing that day-today anyway.
“It was really good that councillors and officers were scrutinising this before the cabinet so we could have that robust discussion.
“We spend £70 million per year on council services for residents, we have a responsibility to get value for money and this report is here to make sure that is happening. We want officers to work really hard to ensure every pound is spent wisely.”
On potential underlying factors such as government funding, Cllr Chilvers added: “It is no secret that central government has been cutting funding since 2010, there have been massive cuts over that time and councils have to manage that as best they can.
“It is our job to provide the services within the money we have and as well as we can for our residents. This is not new for councils, whatever central government does we have to make sure we are responsible and manage the money as best we can.”