26th August 2019

Somerset’s financial position strengthened

Somerset County Council reported this week a substantially improved financial position in its end of year financial report.

A combination of extra one-off funding, technical adjustments and savings mean the council has been able to increase its levels of general reserves by £4.2m to what is considered a prudent level for an authority this size – just over £16m. 

The Council’s Revenue Budget Outturn Report for 2018/19, describes the Council’s financial outlook as being “more positive than it has been for a number of years” with a 1.85 per cent underspend (£5.9m) on its net budget of £318m.

But it highlights the “significant level of uncertainty” due to a reliance on one-off grants, increasing demand and the unknown outcomes from the ongoing Government reviews of funding for local government.

Some £58m of next year’s £328m net budget for next financial year can be described as ‘uncertain’ or ‘one-off” including over £30m of funding for adult social care.

Councillor Mandy Chilcott, Cabinet member for resources, said: “The financial challenges remain, but the report shows the Council’s strengthened financial position along with a robust balanced budget for 2019/20. I’m pleased that foundations have been laid for the council to move forward and continue to consolidate this year.”

This week’s meeting also heard of good performance across the County Council’s services in the last year, and Council Leader, Councillor David Fothergill, said: “To achieve such a financial turnaround is success, to do that while maintaining and improving performance is quite remarkable and I’d like to thank all the staff who have been involved.”

Early this financial year an overspend of around £12m was being projected. Since then, the Council has received £3.7m in additional one-off grants and funding, saved £4.2m through technical financial adjustments, and delivered more than £9m of savings approved in September.

To read a full copy  of the report visit http://democracy.somerset.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=134&MId=734&Ver=4