Skip to content

Answering your budget questions

The following information has been prepared in response to questions raised by colleagues about our budget situation, our in-year cost savings measures and the savings proposals for 2024/25.

Within your department, your senior leadership team will be aiming to keep you informed of measures or proposals that may impact your specific area of work.

Existing cost control measures

Like many other councils, we're currently facing significant financial pressures, many of which are outside our control and include inflationary pressures, meeting the cost of the national pay award and increasing demand on the services we provide.

In September 2023 we announced an in-year budget gap of £46.4 million and introduced a number of cost control measures to help reduce spending. These controls include a freeze on recruitment and a stop to non-essential spending.

Our in-year overspend forecast had reduced to £33 million in November 2023 but is now forecast to be £34.1 million, mainly due to continuing rising demand in adults and children’s social care.

We are still in a very challenging financial position and all our cost control measures remain in place. We must continue to do all that we can to reduce the overspend further.

It’s really important that everyone questions what they spend, even if it’s low cost – it all adds up. Just because there's an existing budget, it doesn’t mean it has to be spent. We need to continue to question whether that spend is essential.

Tackling the cause of our overspend

In addition to our savings proposals, we're addressing the causes for the overspend directly, however some of those causes are outside our control, such as inflation pressures and the increasing demand on the services we provide. 

Our ability to balance the budget for 2024/25

In common with authorities across the country, we're facing budgetary pressures far greater than experienced before, due to factors beyond our control.

We have to do everything we can to balance our books and ensure we continue to provide the services our residents rely on and deserve. To do that, we've put forward a number of savings proposals which were included in the 11 January Cabinet report.

The council currently has no plans to issue what is called a Section 114, which happens when a council is unable to meet its legal duty to set a balanced budget. The budget savings proposals, if agreed, could save millions of pounds and support the setting of a balanced budget. If these proposals don’t go ahead or generate the level of savings required, other savings will need to be considered to make sure we can set and maintain a balanced budget.

We welcome the additional funding for social care announced by the government, which has resulted from lobbying by local authorities including Derbyshire, and by the County Councils Network. However, this funding is not enough to prevent the need to progress with our savings proposals.

Savings proposal details

The 11 January Cabinet report sets out the budget position with high level budget proposals. At this stage we don't have any more details or specifics about the proposals.

Please remember that no decisions have been made at this stage about individual proposals. Many of the proposals, if it is agreed for them to go forward, will be subject to further Cabinet reports and then followed by appropriate public engagement or consultation before any final decisions are made.

The meaning of the term ‘service review’

A service review means we will be looking at specific service areas and seeing if those areas can be run and managed differently to make them more efficient. This could include reviewing what we do, how we do it, where we do it or who does it.

Your contribution to saving money

We encourage everyone to share cost savings ideas so please speak to your manager if you have a suggestion. We're currently considering how a central approach to colleague suggestions could work including whether we have sufficient resources to manage such an approach on a day-to-day basis. 

Within each department there may be a process for submitting your budget savings ideas so please check your departmental SharePoint site if you have one. 

Engagement and consultation

Each budget saving proposal will follow its own timeline, and appropriate engagement or consultation with impacted colleagues and the public will take place before any decisions are made.

The proposed service reviews are all very different and will require different forms of engagement and consultation. We aim to provide you with the necessary information at the earliest opportunity, reduce the impact on colleagues as far as possible, and seek your views.

We'll also continue to work collaboratively and collectively with all recognised trade unions who have been briefed about the overall budget position and high level savings proposals. Regular discussions with recognised trade unions will continue to be held as we move through the budget setting cycle and we recognise their important role in voicing matters on behalf of the workforce.

The impact of removing vacant posts

In some service areas we're considering removing vacant posts in order to make savings. When making these decisions we have to accept that we can't continue to do everything that we've done in the past but with fewer people.

Across all departments we'll be prioritising the work we do and we'll have to consider the capacity that we have to deliver essential services.

We encourage you to hold open conversations within your teams and where workload pressures are too much, discuss ways to relieve that pressure including identifying things that are non-longer a priority and could be stopped.

The wellbeing of all our colleagues remains a priority so please speak to your line manager if you need support in managing your workload. 

Redundancy concerns

At Derbyshire we have a strong track record of doing everything we can to avoid compulsory redundancies through retraining, redeployment and leaving empty posts unfilled.

It is our priority to continue doing this. Unfortunately, due to the scale of the budget savings that we need to make, we can't rule out the need to make redundancies in the future. 

Next steps for the savings proposals

The proposals were presented to Cabinet on 11 January 2024 and then referred to our Improvement and Scrutiny Committee – Resources, for consideration at their meeting on Monday 22 January 2024.

The Improvement and Scrutiny Committee – Resources have provided feedback to Cabinet on the proposals, with the budget-setting report to be considered by Cabinet at its meeting on Thursday 1 February 2024.

The budget-setting report will then be considered by Full Council when it meets on Wednesday 14 February 2024.

Many of the proposals, if it is agreed for them to go forward, will be subject to further Cabinet reports and then followed by appropriate public engagement or public consultation before any final decisions are made.