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Services at risk as Suffolk County Council forecasts overspend of £8.6 million

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich. (4039239)
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich. (4039239)

Services are at risk of cuts at Suffolk County Council as the authority prepares to wrestle with a predicted £8.6 million overspend this year.

Finance chiefs are warning of tough decisions ahead after a quarterly budget report which forecasted an overspend of £8.6m by the end of the year – around 1.7 per cent of its £501 million budget.

Increasing costs and rising demand in children and young people’s services account for about £5 million of the projected overspend but council leaders admit that for the first time all areas of the authority’s business are overspending.

Cllr Richard Smith, cabinet member for finance and assets, said: “I think most people have some awareness that local councils are facing enormous financial challenges, but it’s figures like these that bring the scale of the issue into sharp focus.

“We have seen Northamptonshire County Council effectively go bust in recent months. I want to reassure people that Suffolk is not in that position, but that does not mean we can be complacent either. There are going to be some tough calls to make in the weeks and months ahead, but they are calls we are going to have to make to keep Suffolk County Council within budget.”

It is not yet clear which specific areas may face the first cutbacks, but it is understood the council is already looking at next year’s budget for further savings.

Cllr Sarah Adams, Labour group leader, said: “The financial problems for the county council are compounded by the Conservatives’ ideologically driven cuts agenda which has stunted growth in Suffolk.”

And Cllr Andrew Stringer, leader of the Lib Dem, Green and Independent Group, said: “This is a recurring pattern, here in Suffolk and across the country, and clearly highlights the lack of support for local authorities from central government.”

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