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Update provided on Wrexham Council’s budget deficit

Wrexham Guildhall

WREXHAM Council has managed to plug more than half of its predicted budget deficit, but still needs to find another £11m worth of savings.

In July the authority’s leaders confirmed the council was looking at a potential £23.8m overspend after just two months of this financial year.

Spiralling inflation, and increased expenditure on children’s and adult social care were given as key reasons for the excess spending, despite a six per cent council tax rise.

Immediate action was taken which saw an increase to the green waste collection charge, a review of council car parking charges and the cancelling of funding the authority pays towards four PCSOs.

Staff were also warned of potential job cuts, and increased scrutiny of overtime and expenses.

An update report to the council’s ruling executive board ahead of its meeting next week shows that progress has been made towards plugging the financial hole, reigning in spending across areas such as the social care and environment departments.

It states: “To reduce this forecast position budget mitigation measures have been identified within social care, and the environment and technical departments, aiming to control pressures and suppress the level of overspend.

“In addition to this, council services have reviewed all spending commitments and income to identify in-year savings to a general target level of 15 per cent.

“Templates have been completed and agreed with chief officers, the lead member and the leader and deputy leader of the council to record all items approved.

“Members have been updated weekly with the budget mitigation measures approved to date and this report focuses on the latest forecast position.”

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The report adds: “The forecast budget position has reduced to a gross projected pressure of £11.7m and includes mitigation measures, approved to August 25, of £11.3m.

“The projected position assumes that the 2023/24 pay award is in line with the latest pay offer. The estimated impact of this is an additional cost of £4m (including schools of £1.2m) over and above the cash limited budget allocated.

“The pay award has not yet been agreed and if the outcome is different from these assumptions, the forecast position will change across all services and schools.

With bin collection workers currently on strike for better pay, and potential pay award increases on the horizon for teachers too, the council is also wary that energy supply is another cost that could go up.

The report adds: “Forecasts based on early actual costs show energy prices (electricity particularly) being forecast to be higher than anticipated of approximately £900,000 (including schools of £600,000).

“The trend is for prices to fall but the latest forecast assumes a higher position this year but will be kept under review. The forecast uses last year’s actual to inform usage assumptions.

“Corporate and central expenditure continues to be reviewed and forecasts have been adjusted to support the wider position.”

Wrexham Council’s executive board will discuss the report when it meets on Tuesday (September 19).