Mark Whitehead 21 May 2018

Somerset confident it will not follow Northamptonshire into bankruptcy

Somerset County Council faces 'a very challenging position' and could run out of money within a year unless it takes action, according to a financial review.

The Tory-run authority claims the local government finance system is 'broken' and has called on Whitehall to take urgent action to address the crisis.

A 'corporate peer challenge' report on the council says: 'A mix of rising demand pressures for services, especially in children’s services where the costs of placements are a significant cause for concern, a low level and slow rising tax base and reducing government grant has necessitated the use of reserves to plug gaps in spending plans and has left the council’s finances in a very challenging position.'

The county unveiled controversial plans involving the future of its Sure Start children’s centres earlier this year and is currently consulting over its library service which could lead to closures.

A spokesman told LocalGov there would be slightly more in its general reserves this year and said it would not follow Northamptonshire, which was taken over by government commissioners in February.

But he added: 'It's a really difficult time for our finances as it is for every local authority.

'The need for social care is growing as are demands for children's services. It is difficult but we are confident we have plans in place for sustainable financing of the council.'

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