Herefordshire’s budget deficit of over £9 million this year is “out of control”, an opposition councillor has claimed.

In a question submitted ahead of a Herefordshire Council cabinet meeting this evening (February 23), Conservative councillor Nigel Shaw said a revenue report for the meeting “shows an out of control budget deficit rising to £9.147m”.

“There is likely to be an appreciable budget deficit at the end of the year. The budget recently passed was silent on this,” he said.

“Which reserve will this year’s deficit have to draw on to provide a balanced outcome for 2022/23?”


To this, cabinet member for finance Coun Liz Harvey said the report was “based on information available at 31 December 2022”.

“In the remaining months of the 2022/23 financial year, directorates will continue to identify recovery actions, including reducing any discretionary spend where they can, and making best planned use of any grant funding in the final quarter of the year, to mitigate this forecast overspend.”

She added that the next year’s budget and financial strategy, narrowly approved by councillors earlier this month, and which the Conservative group opposed, “included proposals to fund the forecast overspend in 2022/23 from the council’s financial resilience reserve”, which “was established to manage risks in the base budget”.

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“This reserve will also fund the two-year transformation programme the council has embarked on to improve the journey of the children in our care and services to the local community,” Coun Harvey said.

The report shows this year’s forecast overspend has actually grown from the council’s previous quarterly forecast published in November, which put the figure at £8.7 million.

This is largely due to its troubled children’s services department spending a forecast £63.5 million in the year the end of next month, rather than a budgeted £54.5 million.

An overdue report on the department’s future following a government commissioner’s inspection late last year is expected any day.

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