Herefordshire is expected to overspend it s budget by £9.5 million this year, even if it succeeds with measures already agreed to rein in spending.

Without these, the overspend will be more like £13.5 million, or 7 per cent of Herefordshire Council’s £193 million revenue spending programme, according to its first budget forecast for the current financial year.

Its author, head of strategic finance at the council Rachael Hart, warns: “Further recovery action must now be identified to respond to the significant financial challenges the council is facing.


“The timely delivery of further actions recommended in this report is critical.”

The 13 main actions she identifies include a freeze on spending on “non-essential items”, restrictions on recruiting permanent staff, a “sustained reduction” in using agency and “high-cost interim” staff, and maximising the council’s income.

As with the previous financial year, the council’s largest overspend will be in the children and young people directorate, which “faces growing demand, greater complexity, national challenges in workforce recruitment and retention, and increased financial constraints”, Ms Hart’s report says.

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The department has yet to show any progress towards a £4.5 million package of savings it was already tasked with, it adds.

Meanwhile, transport costs for children with special needs have risen by £1.1 million, through a combination of inflationary pressures and rising demand.


Lack of local capacity has led to an above-inflation rise in the cost of looked-after children’s residential placements, many being made outside the county, while a lack of foster carers has meant using more expensive alternatives such as fostering agencies, leading to a further half-million-pound overspend.

Reuniting families, “to support the step down of care where it is considered safe and appropriate”, is among the options suggested to address this.

The council’s central, corporate services has meanwhile racked up a £2.4 million overspend , including £0.3 million within chief executive Paul Walker’s office alone, “due to staffing cost pressures”.