Staff at Shropshire Council have been told they must work from home one day a month as the authority struggles to get a grip on its finances.
The Conservative-run council is facing a budget gap of nearly £60m over the next five years due, in part, to the rise in demand on adults and children’s social care services.
In January it offered all non-teaching staff the chance to take voluntary redundancy to reduce costs by £9m over a two year period. The council also announced in August that it would be freezing all recruitment.
Cllr Peter Nutting, the leader of Shropshire Council, this week announced a spending freeze across the authority and said they are encouraging staff to work ‘more flexibly.’
‘We are not closed for business, we will simply be working in a different way,’ he said.
‘This week’s decision to introduce a spending freeze across the council follows the need to get this year’s budget under control, as we always do, despite the pressures,’ said Cllr Nutting in a statement.
‘An ever-increasing number of vulnerable people need support which has meant that our adults and children’s social care services are under more pressure than ever.
‘Despite allocating a further £10m to social care for 2018/19, increasing demand in this area now suggests another £5m is required this year; funding that we just don’t have. This isn’t just a Shropshire issue, it’s happening all over the country.’
In the Autumn Budget, the chancellor announced £410m for adult and children’s social care in 2019/20, with a further £85m over five years to expand children’s social care programmes in 20 areas.
However, as the Local Government Association (LGA) warned today, councils are facing a collective £3bn funding gap by 2025 just to keep services running at current levels.
‘We had hoped that the Budget would help with recognised pressures in social care,’ said Cllr Nutting.
‘We expect to get some additional funding but it isn’t going to be anywhere near the additional £15m cost for this year alone.
‘We don’t know how much we will get, as that hasn’t been announced yet, but we know it is a ‘one off’ rather than in the our base budget for next year and the years after.’