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Neath Port Talbot Council predicts over £3 million budget overspend for 2023-24

Neath Port Talbot Council

NEATH PORT TALBOT Council is predicting an overspend of more than £3 million on its annual budget for 2023-24, it has been reported.

The announcement came at a cabinet and scrutiny meeting held on December 13, where members were given a breakdown of the financial year as of September 30, with officers outlining an expected overspend of £3.4 million.

The most notable areas of overspend highlighted in the report were for the local authority’s social services health and housing department, with the directorate projected to overspend by £2.9 million, along with an additional £838,000 needed for elderly domiciliary care.

Other pressure areas included home to school transport, children’s residential care, public lighting, and the cost of running civic buildings which was said to have gone up by £435k due to increases in the cost of electricity and gas.

The report read: “The council’s net revenue budget for 2023/24 is £361m (£338m in 2022/23). When the budget was set a number of service savings and efficiencies were required totalling £15m.

“The overall budget position as at September, 2023, is a £3.4m overspend after reserve requests. As the financial year progresses, services will need to continually review expenditure and income in their areas to mitigate the impact of the overall budget overspend.”

It also added that schools were expected to go into an overall deficit reserve position of £3.9 million, with all the schools that are currently reporting a deficit budget requested to submit a recovery plan.

The discussions came shortly before councils right across Wales begin their annual budget setting process, with many predicting one of their most difficult financial years to date.

Officers told members that they would now be doing everything they could to drive costs down, along with reviewing all the council’s reserves which could see almost £7.9 million re-purposed for use in other areas.

The report says the re-purposed reserves will be used to “pump prime three transformational initiatives,” including £2.2 million to support a programme of transformational change within adult services, £3.1 million to support change across housing and homelessness services, and £2.4m to support a programme for secondary and special schools.

The report was noted and approved by members in attendance, along with a separate report on the council’s updated capital programme which totals £64 million.