Kingston Council to make tough decisions to balance its books

Guildhall kingston

Kingston Council reported a £3.9m forecast overspend for 2018/19 at its Finance and Contracts Committee last night (4 October).

This is 3.1% of the overall budget of £123m (excluding the ring fenced money for housing and schools), meaning that tough decisions will be needed to bring this year’s budget back on track and to set a balanced budget for 2019/20.

Overall, the council needs to save £22m in this financial year and is working hard to recover the current forecast overspend. Of the £22m savings, some are currently at risk of not being delivered and recovery plans are being put in place to bring it back into balance. These savings do not start to tackle the £11m deficit in the special educational needs and disability schools budget.

Kingston is now in a position where it no longer receives any revenue support funding from central Government. Alongside these reductions to our funding, the demand on local services is greater than it's ever been and inflation is adding to the costs of providing them. We have a growing population in Kingston, which has increased by 20,000 since 2011, reaching 179,600 this year. The elderly population (65+) has also grown from 20,500 in 2011 to 24,300 in 2018 and is projected to reach 32,000 by 2030.

This is adding to the pressure on council services, particularly those that support the most vulnerable. Over the next four years the demand for adult social care services is forecast to cost over £7m more than we currently spend. Added to that, schools funding and supporting children with special educational needs and disability continues to be a challenge both locally and nationally.

Councillor Liz Green, Leader of Kingston Council, said: 

“In May we inherited a budget gap of £22m this year, with around £10m of the proposed savings at risk of not being delivered.

"Since then, we have gone through a line by line review of the budget to determine the level of savings and income achievable this year and what can be done to manage the risk. This has been a challenge but puts us on a much firmer footing to move forward and minimise the overspend which is starting to come down.

"There will be tough decisions over the coming months and as we prepare the 2019/20 budget, but we are determined to put Kingston Council back on a financial even keel, whilst protecting our most vulnerable residents.”

The council will be outlining its draft budget for 2019/20 at Full Council on 26 February 2019.