Ellie Ames 01 November 2023

Council looks to address £100m ‘black hole’

Council looks to address £100m ‘black hole’ image
Image: David Gyung / Shutterstock.com

Somerset Council is considering measures, including reducing staffing and cutting services to statutory levels, to cover a £100m funding gap.

The unitary authority, which came into being in April, said its reserves would not cover the shortfall for next year and without action it would need to issue a Section 114 notice at the point of setting its budget in February.

Officers are drawing up proposals to go before the council’s executive in December, which include selling assets and buildings, including offices; increasing council tax, fees and charges ‘as much as possible’; cutting back staffing; and reducing services to statutory levels.

Deputy leader and lead member for resources Liz Leyshon said: ‘No one wants to be in this position but we are well aware of the implications of a Section 114 notice.’

She said Somerset intended to take ‘difficult decisions’ now with the benefit of local knowledge, rather than leaving government commissioners to find an answer.

The council's latest budget figures, which are expected to show an estimated £70m increase in adult social care costs for 2024-25, will go before the council’s executive on 8 November.

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