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Early action taken to address in-year budget challenges

13 December 2022

Books balanced upright against each other forming a small arch.

Councillors will be updated next week on how West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) is tackling the shortfall in its budget this year as unpredictable financial challenges take hold of local authorities across the country.

Having initially set a balanced budget for this financial year (22/23) back in February, significant cost and demand pressures started emerging this summer that no-one could have expected. This includes the impact of high and rising inflation on operating costs, contracts and supply chains, and the Cost of Living increases and post pandemic effects driving up demand for services, particularly those that protect the young, elderly and vulnerable.

At their meeting next week (Tuesday 20 December), Cabinet members will receive an update on the Council’s 2022-23 budget position , that will show that swift action has brought the deficit down from £7.6m in Quarter 2, to a current position of £3.7m, with progress expected to continue to bridge the shortfall by the end of March.

The Council, which is not unique in facing these emerging pressures, launched a financial review across the organisation earlier this year, imposing measures including stricter spending controls, and revisiting existing budgets to see where further savings and efficiencies could be made. Alongside this, the Council has continued to drive forward its work to transform services so they are more efficient and effective in the long run.

“Having made a strong start in our first year as a new authority by stabilising services and balancing the books, the new financial and demand challenges that surfaced this year could not have been predicted and have caught many Councils out.

"Our prudent planning meant we had some protection from contingency funding set aside for just this kind of challenge, but we also knew we had to act early and quickly to start addressing them in a way that protects services as a priority and puts us on a sustainable footing.

“We’ve worked hard over the past five months to close the funding gap with a concerted effort from all staff to identify where further efficiencies and savings can be made and "continue to make encouraging progress in bringing this year’s budget back into balance.”
Councillor Malcolm Longley, Cabinet Member for Finance

Cabinet will consider the Council’s current financial position at their meeting at The Forum, Towcester, from 6pm on Tuesday, 20 December – this can be watched live via the Council’s Youtube Channel.

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