fears raised in Burnham as council faces £24m overspend
have been raised this week that a projected £24m overspend
at Somerset County Council may result in some public services in
Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge being cut back.
The county council's Cabinet discussed its first quarter financial
report at a meeting on Monday where the forecast of an in-year overspend
of £24m was revealed - if its current rates of spending continue
for the rest of the year.
The County Council is calling for "collective pressure on
the Government" as it wrestles with the impacts of falling
funding and increasing costs.
Burnham Lib Dem town councillor Phil Havey told Burnham-On-Sea.com:
"The Conservative-controlled County Council has got themselves
into this mess unnecessarily. They have not put up council tax bills
for eight years which may be electorally popular but has now left
them in this difficult position where painful cutbacks look inevitable."
"It's hard to see this not having a local impact in the Burnham-On-Sea
and Highbridge area but I just hope that our schools, adult education
services and libraries don't feel any impact. I also hope that local
social services are not affected because those facilities directly
impact people's lives. They have to be protected."
The leader of the County Council, Cllr John Osman, is writing to
the Prime Minister this week setting out the "huge pressures"
facing the authority as it looks to reduce a significant projected
The County Councils Cabinet Member for Resources, Cllr Harvey
Siggs, is also lobbying local MPs - including Burnham-On-Sea MP
James Heappey - to make clear the impact that falling funding is
having on local authorities.
biggest projected overspends are in Adult Social Care (£12.8m)
where demand for increasingly expensive support continues to rise,
and Childrens Services (£9.5m) where use of agency staff
to reduce workloads and improve performance have added significantly
"We must remember that these are projected, not actual overspends,"
said Cllr Osman. "We have a comprehensive plan to bring them
down but that doesnt change the fact that this is a serious
"Over the last five years we have had to make savings of around
£100m. We are not alone in having these sorts of pressures.
Together with other local authorities we need to exert strong and
collective pressure on the Government, making it clear that this
cannot continue without having an impact on what we are able to
do for our residents."
"Sadly, we can no longer provide all the things that we would
want to provide. We have to focus on critical services to the vulnerable
and have to think very hard about spending on anything beyond that."
Earlier in September, Somerset County Council managers were told
that it is essential that in-year spending is brought down. Actions
include a continued spending freeze and tighter controls on recruitment
and the use of agency staff.
On top of the savings it has had to make so far, the County Council
says it expects to lose a further £40m of direct government
funding by 2020/2021.
Meanwhile, costs increase, for example over the last three years
the council says it has had to spend an extra £8m on supporting
Above, Somerset County Council's headquarters