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West Berkshire Council predicting overspend of more than £750,000

Increased costs in adult social care putting huge strain on budget as council admits it may have to take money from reserves

Dan Cooper

Dan Cooper


01635 886632

Council tax set to rise by four per cent from April

WEST Berkshire Council is predicting it will spend £765,000 more than expected in the current financial year.

The council set a budget of £116.8m in 2016/17, but at the end of quarter, three unexpected costs in adult social care, education and legal services could see the council in the red.

Any overspend will have to be taken out of the council’s already depleted reserves.

A predicted £793,000 overspend in adult social care is being blamed on increased complexity of client needs and cost pressures in commissioning services for nursing and residential care.

A forecasted £234,000 overspend across the education service has been put down to increased demand on the home-to-school transport budgets (£176,000) and the disabled children’s team budgets (£122,000).

Legal services is predicting a £249,000 overspend at quarter three.

This is primarily due to the London Road Industrial Estate procurement challenge costs of £249,000 for 2016, together with five planning inquiries which are estimated to cost a further £51,000.

However, it is anticipated that the council will recover some money from the London Road procurement challenge.

Children and family services (£28,000) and culture and environmental protection (£171,000) are both predicting overspends.

The cumulative overspend of £1.48m is being partially offset through forecast underspends for planning and countryside (£232,000), highways and transport (£169,000), strategic support (£101,000), customer services (£91,000) and various other small underspends (£78,000).

Highways and transport’s underspend of £169,000 which is largely due to increased parking income and reduced insurance claims.

Some of the additional income is being used to offset the pressures from consultancy costs for large planning applications, including Siege Cross, Sandleford, North Newbury and Market Street.

Customer services are showing a £90k underspend, mainly due to salary savings within the contact centre and a lower contribution to superannuation costs.

ICT and corporate support are forecasting an underspend of £24,000 from vacancy savings and renegotiating ICT support contracts and the contract for postal services.

Finance is showing an £11,000 overspend from recruitment costs and reduced income generating opportunities.

Human resources is forecasting a £6,000 underspend from salary savings.

In its financial performance report, it says: “The council has an excellent track record of managing the savings programme and minimising budget over spends, but if the forecast overspend of £765k remains at year end, it will impact on our reserves.”

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