Herefordshire Council is heading for an overspend of more than £9million this financial year.

A report prepared for a cabinet meeting next Thursday (September 29) says the council’s forecast £9.4 million overspend amounts to over 5 per cent of its total 2022/23 revenue budget.

Of this, £6.3 million, or two-thirds, is due to increased spending on children’s services – the department rated "inadequate" by Ofsted this week.

This includes a £4.5 million rise in costs and number of child placements, a £519,000 increase in the cost of short breaks for looked-after children, and an increase in staffing costs of £296,000 on agency staff covering vacant positions.

Health and adult wellbeing accounted for a further £2 million overspend, of which £1.7 million is down to the increased cost of care provision of vulnerable adults, particularly older adults.

Finance, corporate services and planning will see a £1 million overshoot, nearly half of which is ascribed to “a reduced number of planning applications, and increased costs to clear a historic backlog”.

A forecast overspend of £400,000 on environment and economy is explained as £300,000 from higher energy costs, and £100,000 more subsidy for Hereford's Beryl bikes scheme due to the ending of the Department for Transport funding.

Waste collection and disposal is also expected to go £177,000 over budget, due to “higher than anticipated” contract cost rises.

The report warns councillors: “The underlying costs and demographic pressures will need to be managed, and mitigating actions put in place, to achieve a balance budget at the end of the financial year.”


In marked contrast, the council expects to spend less than half of its capital budget of £134 million for the current year, due to a range of projects being put off, scaled back or apparently dropped altogether.

In all, £67 million of capital expenditure budgeted for this year will be carried forward to 2023/24.

“These amounts represent budgets that may not be committed in this financial year for projects which are funded by grants, or dependent upon the acquisition of land for housing, and therefore budget is retained for delivery in future periods,” the council report explains.

Underspend on projects will account for a further £2.6 million less spending.

Only £1.5 million of a budgeted £13.6 million will be spent on its planned Fastershire Broadband programme, whose main contractor folded last November.

The council will spend just £650,000 of its strategic housing development budget of £11.5 million this financial year, and only £10,000 of its allocated £1.1 million on bringing forward gypsy and traveller pitches.

The idea of community “super hubs”, first mooted in 2019, appears to have been dropped, with none of the scheme’s allocated £2 million expected to be spent. There was no spending on this in the previous financial year, nor is any currently forecast for future years.

The Technology Enabled Communities programme will likewise see none of its £1.5 million budget spent this year.

Spending on schools and other buildings has also been reduced by £13.3 million, with just £400,000 of the £7 million budgeted for extensive work to Peterchurch and Brookfield schools expected to be spent this year.

Bringing forward employment land and “incubation space” in the county’s market towns will also account for just £2 million of an allocated £9.3 million, “due to lack of eligible site proposals”, the council's report says.

Priority flood repair works and work to mitigating risk on the transport network will each see a £900,000 underspend.

And none of the budgeted £7.8 million on an electric passenger transport fleet for the county is expected to be spent this year.

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