A SHOCKING report claiming Warwickshire County Council is at risk of being swept up by a ‘dire’ region-wide cash crisis has led to the authority admitting it’s facing its ‘most difficult financial position’ in over a decade.
Despite being identified as a ‘council under pressure’ by the Unison union’s report, county chiefs said they remained confident the council could ‘navigate its way through the current situation.’
Warwickshire faces a funding gap of £18.1million for the 2024/25 financial year – the third highest in the West Midlands.
A spokesperson said the council was braced for difficulties, but backed its ‘track record of prudent financial management.’
The spokesperson added Warwickshire was facing the same financial challenges as the rest of the country, such as increases in demand and costs across social care, education, and home-to-school transport.
They said: “Demand for services, inflation, market capacity and an increasing growth in the gap between spending needs and funding have all combined.
“The council has taken swift action to mitigate against overspending and has set out a financial recovery plan detailing how it will balance the books.”
Rugby Borough Council (RBC) is also facing a black hole of over £1.78million for 2024/25, with a spokesperson admitting next year’s budget ‘promised to be a challenge’.
They added: “The rising cost of living impacted RBC’s budgets by £2.7million in 2023/24, but through financial prudence, efficiencies and savings, the council balanced its budget for the current financial year while keeping the increase to its portion of council tax below inflation.
“When the Government confirms allocations from several funding streams for the next financial year, our work on next year’s budget can move forward with greater clarity.”
Unison bosses called on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to provide extra grant funding in the autumn statement before authorities across the West Midlands are ‘no longer able to cope.’
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities dismissed the union’s figures, claiming they didn’t take into account local authorities’ reserves, which rose ‘significantly’ over the pandemic.
A spokesperson added: “Local authorities have seen an increase in Core Spending Power of up to £5.1billion or 9.4 per cent in cash terms on 2022/23, with almost £60 billion available for local government in England.”