by willforster on 3 July, 2017
The Lib Dems at County Hall have criticised Conservative-run Surrey County Council after it emerged that after only two months of the new financial year, the Council is already predicted to overspend by £24 million pounds.
According to the County Council, this overspend has been caused by the failure to achieve millions of pounds of savings, as well as a significant overspend of £12.1 million in the Children’s Services department. This overspend has been caused by a combination of factors – firstly, the Tory administration failed to set a realistic budget for the current financial year, leading to unrealistic and unachievable savings targets.
Secondly, it is a consequence of the failure to negotiate adequate funding from their own Conservative colleagues in Central Government, in order for the Council to run essential services for residents. Thirdly, it demonstrates that the County Council has failed to learn the lessons of the CIPFA Financial Resilience Review from December 2016, which warned that “The Council’s financial plans are not robust and it is at risk of becoming financially unsustainable”.
The new Government has also dropped plans to allow local authorities like Surrey to retain their business rates next year, which the Conservative administration anticipated as a potential lifeline for the County Council when the budget was set in February. The extra £1 billion pounds for the DUP in Northern Ireland is further proof that the Government can provide extra funding when it wants to and therefore could help to alleviate the financial crisis in Surrey – but has chosen not to do so.
Unless the Government steps in with extra funding, Surrey County Council will find itself in a worsening financial position each year. The Lib Dems at County Hall and I have called on the Government to recognise that reality and provide the funding that Surrey and other local authorities so desperately need.Leave a comment