November 30th, 2023

Focus on priorities helping to reduce council overspend in Worthing

Inflationary and cost-of-living pressures affecting Worthing Borough Council this year are being reduced - but more work needs to be done.

Like every local authority in the country, the council is facing tight financial restrictions caused by a reduction in central government funding and increasing pressure outside of its control from inflation and cost-of-living challenges.

At the end of June this year, the council was forecasting that it would be £1.83m over budget for the financial year because of unexpected increases in costs.

By the end of September the overspend had been reduced by almost £290,000, to a position where the council was predicted to be £1.54m over budget for the year. Work is continuing to reduce this figure further before the end of the financial year.

Tackling homelessness is currently expected to cost the council more than £450,000 extra this year, while the government’s housing benefit restrictions have left the council with an additional £750,000 to find beyond what was budgeted for.

Meanwhile, delays to developments, reduced use of the borough’s car parks and fewer people being buried or cremated have all reduced the council’s income. 

New tighter controls have been brought in on spending, the council is reviewing its asset portfolio and savings are being made in staffing and resources.

Some less time-sensitive work is being postponed or cancelled so that funding can be focused on vital services for the community. 

Any remaining overspend will be met using the council’s financial reserves.

Cllr John Turley, Worthing’s cabinet member for resources, said: “We are determined to protect services while addressing the financial pressures that we are facing, like many other councils.

“In particular, increasing housing pressures have produced a significant shortfall in the housing benefit subsidy we receive from the government. Once again this highlights the urgent need for more government funding to meet this and other pressures.

“We are continuing to make savings and look for new sources of funding but we are determined to continue providing the essential services that our citizens rely upon.”
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