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Challenging times ahead as demand and costs rise

Published: 1 December 2022

Challenging times are ahead as we join other local authorities across the country to warn of budget pressures due to rising costs and demand for services.

We've released our 2022 to 23 second quarterly budget report, and while we remain on track to balance the books this year, the next financial year 2023 to 24 could see a possible £35m shortfall in the money we need to maintain current services, with following years set to remain difficult.

Council leader Councillor Barry Lewis said that while we remain a well-run and responsible council which had always delivered a strong and balanced budget, forces beyond our control were behind the predicted shortfall for next year and beyond.

External forces affecting our budgets include inflation, rising fuel and energy costs, a continuing increase in demand for adult social care and children’s services and the pay increase for council staff, which was agreed at a national level but must be met from local council budgets.

Councillor Lewis said:

“We have always been a well-managed, efficient and financially stable council which has balanced our books, maintained a robust level of reserves and been able to support vital, high quality, value-for-money services for our residents across Derbyshire.

“However, the reality is that the financial pressures we are facing, along with other councils and households, are far greater than ever experienced before, with most of these pressures being simply beyond our control.

“We are continuing to lobby the Government for extra funding so that we can continue to run vital services to those who need them most, but we also recognise that difficult decisions will need to be made in the future. I can reassure people that no service changes would be made without consulting people who might be affected and we are not at that stage at the moment.

“Despite the pressures on our budget, we are ambitious for Derbyshire, committed to supporting people through the cost of living rises and helping to drive our local economy’s post-Covid recovery, working with partners to get the best value in all that we do.”

Council deputy leader and Cabinet member for corporate services and budget Councillor Simon Spencer said:

“While we welcomed announcements in the Government’s Autumn Statement in November around extra money for schools, social care and the Household Support Fund, we must wait until the Local Government Settlement announcement towards the end of December to get a clearer picture of our position next year and how this could affect future years. Only when we have our settlement will we be able to look more closely at which services could be affected and the impact for council tax.

“We will balance our books for next year due to prudent management and the savings we have already made, which amount to more than £7m this year and £300m over the past 12 years, and we continue to work hard to identify more ways to improve efficiency and realise savings while prioritising essential services for residents and supporting the most vulnerable.”

Our latest budget position will be discussed at a meeting of Cabinet on Thursday 8 December 2022.