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Powys Council now predicting £1.743m budget surplus for 2023/2024

WITH a month left of the 2023/2024 financial year, Powys County Council was predicting a surplus of £1.743 million.

This is just under £1.6 million less than the council were predicting at the end of last December.

After money is squirrelled away in council reserve budgets the surplus predicted as it stood on February 29, will shrink further to £1.612 million.

This is against the council’s base budget of £326.621 million for 2023/2024.

During the course of the financial year the budget has fluctuated with a £3.73 million surplus predicted at the end of June – which fell to £2.85 million at the end of September and went back up to £3.34 million at the end of December.

The report explained that the surplus has been hit by “cost pressures” that have gone up by £2.387 million in the two months from the end of December to the end of February.

The report explains that this is due in part to a prediction that the Children’s Social Services department is predicting to overspend their budget allocation by £1.4 million.

The report said:  “Children’s Services continue to face unavoidable pressures in relation to an increased demand for placements for children with complex needs amid a national shortage of placements.

“Alongside this, there continues to be increasing demand due to the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC).

“These pressures have impacted on the service’s ability to deliver the cost reductions identified for 2023-24 in full.”

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The report adds that it has been agreed that the department can use £800,000 from a “risk budget” and will need to work on ways to find the other £600,000 to try and balance the departmental budget.

The department are also saying that they have already exhausted their planned budget for children in care placements and that with a month left of the financial year “all new or step up” placements will incur extra costs.

Director of corporate services and s151 officer, Jane Thomas said: “We continue to develop proposals to reduce the budget gap projected over the medium term.

“Financial resilience and sustainability can only be achieved by delivering a lower cost council, effectively managing our collective resources, robust and transparent decision making, and actively managing risk supported by an appropriate level of reserves.”

Jane Thomas – Head of Finance (Pic: Powys County Council)

The report is expected to be noted by cabinet at their meeting on Tuesday, May 7 and they will agree the inter-budget money transfers known as virements.

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