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Cabinet refers budget savings proposals to scrutiny committee

Published: 12 January 2024

A number of budget savings proposals are to be considered further following a meeting of our Cabinet earlier this week (Thurs 11 Jan).

After discussion at its meeting, Cabinet has referred the budget savings proposals to the Improvement and Scrutiny Committee – Resources, which will consider them when it meets on Monday 22 January.

The budget savings proposals which form part of a Cabinet report detailing our financial position could, if agreed, save millions of pounds and support the setting of a balanced budget for 2024-25.

In common with authorities across the country, we are facing budgetary pressures far greater than experienced before, due to factors beyond our control. These include dealing with higher than anticipated inflation and higher prices for fuel, energy and materials, meeting the cost of the national pay award set nationally but met locally, and the continued unprecedented increase in demand for vital adults’ and children’s social care services.

As well as a current forecast overspend for 2023 to 2024 of £33 million, the council has a predicted shortfall of £39.5 million in its budget for the year ahead (2024 to 2025) which has resulted in the savings proposals being put forward.

Council Leader Councillor Barry Lewis and Deputy Leader Councillor Simon Spencer said they had been left with no choice but to put forward the raft of multi-million-pound savings proposals which, if agreed, would affect many services used by thousands of Derbyshire residents.

Derbyshire County Council Leader Councillor Barry Lewis said:

“We have always prided ourselves on being a prudent, financially stable and well-managed council, balancing our books from year to year, maintaining a strong level of reserves and keeping council tax as low as possible, while providing vital, value-for-money services for our residents.

“However, we have made no secret of the fact that we are facing pressures like never before.

“We have to do everything we can to balance our books and ensure we continue to provide the services our residents rely on and deserve, and to do that we have no choice but to put forward these proposals which, if agreed, could help us to achieve that.

“Cabinet has agreed to refer the budget savings proposals to the Improvement and Scrutiny Committee which will consider and discuss what is being put forward, with many further stages to go through before any decisions are made.

“However, if these savings and efficiency proposals do not progress, alternative savings will need to be found in order to meet our legal obligations to maintain a balanced budget.”

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Budget Councillor Simon Spencer said:

“Over the past 13 years we have made £300 million of budget savings, and it becomes more and more difficult to find savings from already very lean and efficient services.

“All avenues have been explored and we will continue to do our best for the residents of Derbyshire, but unfortunately we have reached the point where we need to make tough decisions.”

The Improvement and Scrutiny Committee – Resources will provide feedback to Cabinet on the proposals, with the budget-setting report to be considered by Cabinet at its meeting on Thursday 1 February 2024.

The budget-setting report will then be considered by Full Council when it meets on Wednesday 14 February 2024.

Many of the proposals, if it is agreed for them to go forward, will be subject to further Cabinet reports and then followed by appropriate public engagement or public consultation before any final decisions are made.