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Message from Managing Director, Emma Alexander - 5 December 2022

Published on 5 December 2022.

You will no doubt have seen some of the national headlines over the past few weeks and months about budget challenges being faced by councils up and down the country.

Unfortunately, we are not immune from these challenges and have added our voice to those of other local authorities in signalling that challenging times lie ahead.

Our Cabinet will discuss our 2022 to 2023 second quarterly budget report at its meeting later this week, and while we remain on track to balance our books this year, the next financial year (2023 to 2024) could see a possible £35 million shortfall in the money needed to maintain current services, with following years set to remain difficult.

While we remain a well-run and responsible council which has always delivered a strong and balanced budget, forces beyond our control are behind the predicted shortfall for next year and beyond.

External forces affecting our budget include inflation, rising fuel and energy costs, a continuing increase in demand for adult social care and children’s services and the pay increase for our workforce, which was agreed at a national level but must be met from local council budgets.

Council leader Councillor Barry Lewis and deputy council leader Councillor Simon Spencer have spoken about the challenges that lie ahead and you can read more here: Challenging times ahead as demand and costs rise.

Difficult decisions lie ahead, but I can reassure you that no service changes will be made without consulting those who might be affected, and in any case we are not at that stage at the moment.

We must now wait until the Local Government Settlement announcement towards the end of December to get a clearer picture of our position next year and how this could affect future years. Only when we have our settlement will we be able to look more closely at how we and our services will be affected.

We will regularly update you on the situation as we move through the year, but if you do have any questions or concerns at this stage, please do raise these with your line manager or departmental management team.