Council faces £18m shortfall over next three years

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MORE savings will have to be made to help plug a funding gap of £18 million over the next three years, council chiefs have been warned.

A presentation of Cheshire West and Chester’s Medium Term Financial Strategy was given to its ruling cabinet which revealed the overall shortfall for 2022-25 was just under £60 million, due to reductions in central Government funding and increasing pressures on council services.

Much of that is expected to be offset by council income from council tax and business rates as well as savings, but the cabinet was told this still left a shortfall of £18 million by 2025 and additional savings would have to be made.

Cllr Carol Gahan, cabinet member for legal and finance, told the meeting the council is expected to receive a three-year comprehensive spending review from Government on October 27 which will provide more clarity.

This will be the first time since 2015 the review will be based on a three-year settlement.

She said: “It is hoped that this would provide more certainty on future funding.

“The council has been getting one-year settlements over the last few years which has made planning for the future more difficult.”

Addressing the meeting, council leader Louise Gittins thanked the work of the finance team, she said: “The future funding is still uncertain, and we wait with bated breath for the end of the month and the comprehensive spending review.

“We’re still waiting around adult social care so there’s a number of uncertainties that we face.

“We’ve also got ongoing Covid pressures and we don’t know what’s going to happen over the winter months.”

Cllr Gahan added: “The council is in a very good position, we have been very careful with our finances and our ambition to improve life in our borough has not dipped in any way, but we’re making sure that we do it in a very careful way so that our finances remain secure.”