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West Suffolk Council faces potential £700,000 budget black hole



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A potential shortfall of £700,000 compared to budget for West Suffolk Council has been put down to the continuing impact of Covid-19, the cost-of-living crisis and the war in Ukraine.

The performance quarter one report, discussed at the performance and audit scrutiny committee yesterday, found that the council could be left with a need to find an extra £700,000 than budgeted for this year alone.

The council had budgeted £500,000 to be taken from reserves this year and put towards recovering lost income, but the report indicates that a worst-case scenario could see this amount rise by £700,000 to £1,200,000.

The meeting of West Suffolk Council Performance and Audit Scrutiny Committee. Photo: Siobhan Middleton
The meeting of West Suffolk Council Performance and Audit Scrutiny Committee. Photo: Siobhan Middleton

Conservative councillor Sarah Broughton, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Resources and Property, said: “The national impact of recovery post Covid-19 and the current cost-of-living crisis is impacting all public services and we have to plan for that.

“We budgeted for less income this year due to these factors but issues such as the war in Ukraine is having a detrimental effect on all UK council services and finances.

“We could be faced with needing to find an additional £700,000 under the scenario set out in the report.

The council could be left with a need to find an extra £700,000 than budgeted for this year alone
The council could be left with a need to find an extra £700,000 than budgeted for this year alone

“We have plans in place to address some of the issues but the majority of this is out of the control of the council and affected by national behaviours by the public as well as the international situation.

“This also means many of our services are needed even more and therefore it is likely we will look to general reserves to help cushion the blow. We will continue to keep the situation under review.”

The areas in which actual income is forecasted to be lower than budgeted income by the highest amount are: income from car parking, at £948,000 lower, and income from markets, at £99,140 lower.

Total income from sales, contributions and reimbursements stood at just under £477,500 lower than budgeted.

The areas in which spending is forecasted to be higher than budgeted by the greatest amount are: premises costs, at £504,830 higher, and supplies and services costs, at just under £397,590 higher.