£13m financial headache for Flintshire Council

Reporter:

Hayley Collins

FINANCE chiefs have predicted a £13 million shortfall in Flintshire Council’s budget over the next three years.

Council bosses have prepared a draft Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFP), which predicts the council’s anticipated finances until 2015.

After taking into account funding from the Welsh Assembly, Council Tax and any ‘rolled over’ budget compared with the council’s outgoings, there is predicted to be a funding gap of £3.4m in both 2012/13 and 2013/14, and a shortfall of £6.2m in 2014/15.

The figures represent an initial forecast and do not take into account any additional budget pressures such as inflation, a change to a service or a reduction in external funding.

The grave news was presented to the council’s executive committee at County Hall yesterday.

Kerry Feather, the council’s head of finance, said there would certainly be additional pressures on the budget.

“We are going to be in a position of a budget gap,” she said.

“We are now looking at the process of what we are going to do about it. We need to look at how we can bring in more grants and increase our resources and on the other side we have to look at ways we can reduce our costs.

“Over the next three years we have got a funding gap of £13 million and there will be pressures, there’s no doubt about that.”

The community services, environment and lifelong learning departments are now developing ‘directorate plans’, which will identify new budget pressures that will need to be considered for funding.

Initial estimates of the council’s financial forecast, which takes into account budget requirements for each of the directorates, is expected to be finalised next month.

Miss Feather said: “It is important to recognise that at this stage, many of the figures will be estimates which require further work to refine them. However, it is critical those estimates are made so that, with caveats, the council can be in a position to understand collectively its financial position and to be able to plan ahead accordingly.”

The draft MTFP will also be presented to the council’s corporate resources overview and scrutiny committee tomorrow for consideration.

Budget

FINANCE chiefs are anticipating the council’s budget to have balanced at the close of the last financial year.

Members of the executive committee hailed it “good news” at County Hall yesterday.

Cllr Nigel Steele-Mortimer, executive member for education, said: “This is good news in these difficult times. 

"I would like to thank those who have worked hard to bring this budget back on course.

"We have certainly got a grip on the budget now and I’m looking forward to a totally balanced budget at the end of the year.”

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