Council continues its prudent financial management
The council has formally presented its first financial update of 2023/24
Wiltshire Council has provided its first formal update of the 2023/24 financial year as it continues to prudently manage its budgets despite the continuing unpredictability of the economy and pressures faced by councils.
The council has published its first quarter revenue and capital monitoring positions, which informs on its financial forecasts for the year.
At the end of the first quarter there is a small forecast overspend of around £0.3m which equates to less than 0.1% of the budget.
More than £26m of savings were identified to be made during 2023/24 and, at the end of the first quarter, more than £6.2m has already been achieved (around 24%) with a further £15.7m on track to be delivered (around 60%). The council will continue to robustly monitor its finances and focus on the delivery of savings. The council has taken a long-term strategic approach to its budget, which included effectively setting the next three years' budgets in February, and this means it is in a stronger position to respond positively to any unexpected issues.
The council has also provided an update on its monitoring of the capital budget for quarter one of the financial year. Overall, the capital programme for the year stands at approximately £189m. It is likely the budget will change throughout the year as it's common for timeframes on major capital projects to evolve, particularly taking into consideration the scale, logistics and complexity of the work typically involved - made even more so by the unpredictable nature of inflation at this time.
Traditionally, the council's average annual capital spend has been more than £100m per year. So far in 2023/24, more than £26m of the capital budget has been spent. Some of the council's capital projects include:
- Ongoing development of Silverwood School
- Carbon reduction measures at council properties
- Building new council houses
- Drainage improvements
- Major road improvements
- Salisbury and Trowbridge Future High Street projects
- Continued development of new leisure centre in Trowbridge and other leisure projects
Cllr Nick Botterill, Cabinet Member for Finance, said:
"At a time when local councils' finances are a presenting a significant challenge up and down the country, Wiltshire Council continues to be in a much better position than most others. This is due to our forward planning, focus on cost control and savings delivery, which means we're in control of our finances and able to do more in a self-sufficient way than other councils.
"We will continue to monitor our own financial situation prudently, robustly and in a transparent way, which will ensure that should any unforeseen issues emerge then we are very well equipped to deal with them.
"We remain an ambitious council and now more than ever we have to ensure the money we spend is adding value and supporting our communities, we'll continue to look at all opportunities to invest in the future of our county."
The updates were presented at Wiltshire Council's cabinet meeting on 12 September 2023. The full reports can be found at Cabinet agenda - 12 September 2023.