Hartlepool Borough Council on track to report balanced budget this year
Council bosses are on track to report balanced books for the current year after tackling a potential overspend.
Hartlepool Borough Council finance staff previously reported they were set for a £549,000 overspend for 2018/19 and warned they may have had to call on funding reserves.
Chris Little, council director of finance and policy, has now stated officers have identified savings to reduce this to zero by the end of this financial year and reserves are not expected to be needed.
However he warned the impact winter can have on services and said the budget will be monitored for the rest of the year, while also stating the council still faces financial problems going forward.
It comes at a time when council bosses were forced to put aside reserves, make further savings and increase council tax as part of their plan to tackle a £6million deficit for 2019/20.
A report from Mr Little said: “Officers have identified a range of measures that are expected to reduce this general fund revenue forecast deficit to nil by the year end.
“However, there is a risk that further additional seasonal costs may arise and the budget position will be monitored closely until the end of the financial year.
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“The financial pressures facing the council are not unique and national press reports have highlighted significant financial issues in many councils.
“The council faces further deficits in 2020/21 and 2021/22. This means further extremely difficult decisions will be required over the next three years to set balanced budgets.”
He said they managed to achieve the savings for the current year through reviewing all grants and other funding such as over-achieving salary abatement targets and reducing discretionary spending.
Council put the overspend down to continuing budget pressures for children’s services and the increasing number and cost of looked after children.
There was also overspends in the regeneration and neighbourhood budgets due to a continued rise in pupil numbers accessing special educational needs transport, including for trips outside the borough.
However the report added the council is in a better position in the short term due to decisions made in recent years to cut expenditure, increase council tax and achieve housing growth.
Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service