Ellie Ames 14 December 2023

Swindon’s finances on a ‘cliff edge’

Swindon’s finances on a ‘cliff edge’ image
Image: swindon.gov.uk

Axing 80 jobs is one proposal among a raft of measures under consideration by Swindon Borough Council as it seeks to cover a £14m shortfall.

The unitary authority said it is forecasting a £6.5m in-year budget gap and a £14.1m deficit for 2024-25.

Its finances are on a ‘cliff edge’, according to a Local Government Association (LGA) finance peer challenge, which warns that the authority has insufficient reserves to act as a cushion.

The LGA report stresses that the council must get its children’s services budget under control if it is to achieve financial stability and improve on its ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating.

It does note the council leadership’s ‘clear ownership’ of its financial position and ‘promising’ early signs of improvement but warns that ‘time is extremely tight given the scale of financial challenge’.

Proposals to cut costs next year include removing around 80 full-time equivalent posts – of which 24 are currently vacant – as well as significant changes to library services, adult social care and streetlighting, and the withdrawal of community transport funding.

Councillors are also considering using more local foster carers and 'improving the commissioning of services' in a bid to cut the cost of children’s placements.

Cabinet member for finance Kevin Small said: ‘There is no doubt we are facing an extremely serious situation and we will have to make some very tough decisions to bring this year’s budget into line and achieve the huge savings we need for next year in order to set a balanced budget.’

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