Parties unite in Government pleas as Coventry Council faces £8.5million overspend - The Coventry Observer

Parties unite in Government pleas as Coventry Council faces £8.5million overspend

Coventry Editorial 7th Feb, 2024   0

COUNCIL chiefs on both sides of the political aisle have united in their pleas for government aid as the cash-strapped authorities’ ongoing financial struggles face another hit.

A report, to be considered by the council’s cabinet next week, has revealed a forecast overspend of £8.5million for the 2023/24 financial year.

But the authority’s finance chief Coun Richard Brown has warned the underlying position is a lot worse than projected.

The report reveals 79p of every pound the council spends is going into Adults and Children’s social care, Housing, and Streetscene services.

The authority has claimed the cash pressures have come from high levels of inflation, increased service demands, difficult conditions within social care markets and recruitment difficulties in some services.

In August, the council said it was facing the prospect of issuing a Section 114- effectively declaring themselves bankrupt- at some point if its concerns were not addressed by the government.

Because of this, ‘tough’ cuts have been mooted in Coventry’s draft 2024-25 budget.

Coun Brown said the council was continuing to lobby the government and said ‘enough is enough’.

“The projected overspend could be a lot higher than £8.5million but we have carried out a range of measures since April 2023 to make savings.

“The funding allocated by the government is not enough for Councils to deliver fair and effective services for local people.

“I won’t apologise for stating again that Coventry City Council is receiving £31m less than the average local authority every year.”

Coventry Conservative leader Coun Gary Ridley recently wrote a joint letter with council leader Coun George Duggins to the government advocating for a multi-year settlement.

He told the Observer it was crucial for the Government to acknowledge and address the ‘persistent challenge’ posed by inflation in recent years.

“While our council isn’t immune to criticism of poor decision-making, it’s undeniable these are trying times for local government.

“Looking ahead, sustainable reforms in local government funding are imperative.”

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson said: “We recognise councils are facing challenges and that is why we recently announced an additional £600million support package for councils across England, increasing their overall proposed funding for next year to £64.7 billion – a 7.5 per cent increase in cash terms.

“This additional funding has been welcomed by leading local government organisations, but we remain ready to talk to any concerned council about its financial position.”

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