budget shortfall - cheshire east council headquarters - pic by Mike Faherty

Cheshire East Council could be forced to introduce a number of “realistic” saving measures to address a budget shortfall of £5.3 million, writes Aran Dhillon.

The mid-year review of performance – discussed by the Cabinet during yesterday’s meeting – outlines how the authority is providing “value for money” services.

However, the council is forecasting an overspend of around £5.3 million in 2018-19.

It comes against a net revenue budget of £269.5 million.

It is mainly due to pressures in the people directorate, as well as delays associated with achieving some efficiency savings.

Cllr Paul Bates, responsible for finance and communication, highlighted inflationary pressures and soaring social care costs facing the authority.

He said: “Costs will be controlled through a new number of initiatives, vacancies will be managed and we will review processes linked to the debt recovery, as well as looking at trends linked to welfare payments.”

Cllr Jos Saunders, responsible for children and families, discussed the prospect of introducing saving measures.

She said: “Children and families is working in a very challenging environment and, like every other area, we will be looking at savings which are realistic and achievable.

“But what I would like to also state, is to pay tribute to the staff, who are working in children and families, because in this challenging environment they have achieved a lot and it has been in partnership with other partners as well.”

It has been confirmed that a number of service areas are reporting vacancies, therefore, extending vacancy periods will be considered where this does not have a “serious impact” on staff, or on service levels to vulnerable people.

A funding bid of £561,000 has been submitted to Public Health England to support children of dependent drinkers and alcohol dependent parents.

If the bid is successful, the grant will be awarded to the council for the period from November this year to March 2021.

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