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(UK) Worcester: "Cost of social care continues to soar"; $16M overspend

Dec 5, 2022, Worcester News: Worcestershire County Council facing £13 million [$15.7M] gap in budget

W. Midlands

THE cash-strapped county council is already facing a £13 million gap in its budget this year as the cost of social care continues to soar.

Worcestershire County Council has revealed the financial hole blaming rising costs and inflation on the overspend.

The huge gap comes despite the authority using millions of pounds from its reserves to plug several gaps and slashing at its budget by making almost £5m [$6M] in cuts this year alone.

On top of millions of pounds of cuts, managers and staff have been ordered to “slow down or cease expenditure wherever possible” including holding vacancies and stopping “non-essential spend” including buying stationery, subscriptions and attending training events. The current predicted £13 million gap in the budget, which covers the financial year up to the end of October, remains even after £5 million has already been moved from the council’s reserves to pay for services….

The rising cost of care, where the council is already facing a £13 million [$15.7M] overspend in adult social care as well as £8.5 million [$10.3M] at Worcestershire Children First which runs children’s services on behalf of the council, makes up the bulk of the budget gap.

In all, cabinet papers ask for councillors to agree for almost £19 million to be potentially moved from the council’s reserves to pay for some of this year’s costs including £4 million for wage rises, £4 million for children’s services and £1 million to plug gaps in the adult social care budget.

The council’s dedicated schools grant (DSG) reserves, which fund the county’s schools and is made up of money given to the council through a national government formula based on the makeup of schools, are also facing a £20 million gap by the end of 2024.

The reserves already have an £11 million gap, because of previous years of overspending, and it is expected to reach £15.6 million by March next year.

'High needs’ funding for children with special educational needs (SEN) is also facing a £5 million [$6M] gap by 2024.


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