Cheshire West and Chester Council takes action to address projected £10.8 million overspend

At their meeting next week, the Council’s Cabinet Members are being provided with an update on the budget for this year, which forecasts a potential overspend of £10.8 million.

Cabinet is due to receive a report which reviews the financial forecast for the financial year 2023/24, with a predicted overspend of £10.8 million. Already the Council has identified £16.1 million of savings and other proposals in year to reduce the increased costs of £27.1 million it has seen this year.

The majority of increased costs are through increased social care needs for the residents of our borough. The Council continues to identify further in-year options to reduce the current predicted overspend and to improve financial resilience building on our strong record of financial management.

The report explains the actions the council is taking to bring the budget into balance whilst balancing our core responsibilities with the ongoing needs of our communities, regeneration ambitions and delivery of priorities within the Council Plan.  

Like many councils, the bulk of the overspend is in Childrens Social Care and Adults Social Care with increasing need leading to projected overspends of £12.4 million and £3.1 million respectively after mitigations.  Unprecedented levels of need, alongside an increase in the complexity of cases and inflationary pressures, have contributed to these figures. 

In Childrens Social Care, in July 2023 the Council was caring for 594 children, up from an average of 490 pre-pandemic. With inflationary pressures experienced this year, the number and average annual cost of each residential care placement to support children with the most complex needs has increased from £243,000 to £321,000. This means an increase in need at this level is having an unprecedented impact on the budget, making planning a real challenge for all councils.  

It is a similar position in Adult Social Care. Since the start of the year there has been a 15% increase in the number of adults needing nursing home placements.

To address the projected overspend and to maintain financial resilience additional spending controls will be introduced with the aim to move towards a balanced budget in-year (the Council proposed a balanced budget in February) to deliver a balanced budget by the end of the year, prioritising core services and regeneration projects in towns across the borough.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Louise Gittins, said, “We have a four-year financial plan, linked to our priorities, and a strong track record of delivering financial sustainability and a balanced budget.  However, the level of need for Children’s and Adults’ social care support has increased significantly since we set the budget in February and we will always prioritise these vital services for our residents.” 

“This serious challenge is being faced by every council in the country. Recent headlines show that many councils are struggling to meet these needs within the finances they have available, and all are having to make difficult decisions to maintain financial resilience.  

“The funding available to councils must be addressed by Government and the Local Government Association is calling for urgent action. That said, we will always meet our responsibilities locally, we are a well-run council with a commitment to financial resilience and value for money.

“We’ve already identified £16.3 million of mitigations to improve the financial position this year and will continue, through strong financial management, to deliver a balanced budget over the coming months. We will also remain focused on the priorities that matter to residents and our core responsibilities throughout this challenging period.

“We are in challenging times, with some difficult decisions to be made, but our dedicated and talented workforce are committed to continuing to deliver high quality services to residents and partners.”

The reports for the Cabinet meeting on 13 September can be found on the Cheshire West and Chester Council website Agenda for Cabinet on Wednesday, 13th September, 2023, 10.00 am – Cheshire West & Cheshire Council (

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