Spending freeze as Shropshire Council enduring a 'very tough' year
Shropshire Council has announced a spending freeze until the end of the year after confirming it is facing a £6 million overspend.
The authority will also be keeping a “very close eye” on recruitment, after leader Peter Nutting told the council's cabinet that it was having a “really, really hard year”.
Councillor Nutting said he would be seeking talks with the new government following the General Election on December 12, to ask for more funding, after conceding the council could fail to balance the books this year.
He said pressure on adult social care and children’s services had left the council in a “very tough” situation.
But he said the authority had already worked very hard to make cuts and protect public services.
“There will be a spending freeze now until the end of the year and while not necessarily freezing recruitment this will be very closely monitored," said Councillor Nutting.
“I have to say as leader it has become harder and harder to balance the books and it is getting more difficult this year.
“I do not honestly know if we will balance the books or not this year, it is a huge challenge in a really, really hard year.
“There is a huge demand on adult social care and children’s services, but we cannot deny our duty to the people who need these services.
“But we will also have to do our best to tackle the forecast overspend. I will freeze the budget for the next couple of months and keep a close eye on recruitment.”
He added: “I will be looking to discuss our situation with the new government after December 12 because no matter your political colour, this is something that needs looking at.
“We are really struggling in Shropshire. We got some extra funding last year but it’s just not enough.
“We must look at everything we can to unlock more funding. We may not break even this year. We do have money in general reserves but I do not want us to decimate that under my leadership.”
Councillor Alan Mosley, leader of the Labour group on the council, asked whether the council’s purchase of Shrewsbury’s shopping centres was a wise move given the financial situation.
He said the value of the centres had dropped by £11 million since the council took on ownership and revenue was down.
But Councillor Nutting said he expected revenue to be down in the short term, before rising sharply once renovation work had been carried out.