Published: 11:50, 09 August 2018
A council is forecast to overshoot financial targets by nearly £5 million next year.
The leader of Medway Council says keeping spending within its £290 million revenue budget is getting “more difficult every year”.
However, Cllr Alan Jarrett (Con) said he expects the 2018/19 budget to be on target despite council papers for the first quarter of the financial year predicting the authority to overspend.
The “adverse forecast” predicts the council to overshoot its target by £4.86 million.
The ‘children and adult services’ and ‘regeneration, culture, environment and transformation’ departments have the biggest projected overspend.
Cllr Jarrett admitted the figure was a “significant sum” but said it is on the back of increasing demand for services and cuts in funding from central government.
He said: “It is a difficult position we’re in – it’s not unusual at this time of year to have these types of projections but, as I say every year, our flexibility and ability to deal with variances in the budget become more difficult each year.
“Me and my colleagues will continue to beaver away at it, with the expectation we will bring the budget on target again as we’ve done every year in the life of this administration – it just gets more difficult every year.”
Disability services is due to overspend by £427,000 due to a higher number of packages needed than expected, as well as the need to reduce agency staff to cover vacant posts.
Special educational needs transport, a service which is currently being changed to cut costs, is forecast to overspend by £698,000 – mainly due to the new system not having been implemented as yet.
In terms of income, the council is expected to miss out on £421,000 of penalty charge notices, and a total of £348,000 from pay and display tickets.
Leisure facilities are also down on the expected income, with Castle Concert ticket sales underachieving by £305,000.
Cllr Jarrett said: “We have had private meetings amongst the cabinet – as we do constantly – with officers to look at some of these variances.
“In particular, I’ve been exercised by challenging officers that some of these projections have not followed seamlessly from the ‘cost current service’ that the budget was based, and that is ongoing until we resolve these matters.”