Herefordshire overspent by nearly £9 million in the year to the start of last month, despite the council’s best efforts to rein in costs.

The county had budgeted a revenue spend of £193.3 million for the 2023/24 financial year, but ended up spending £202 million – a 4.5 per cent overshoot.

This was chiefly due to an £11.7 million overspend in the council’s troubled children and young people department, eased by a £2.8 million saving in central services, figures produced for a meeting of the council’s cabinet show.


Cabinet member for children’s services Coun Ivan Powell said the council was now well on the way to recruiting permanent social workers to replace costlier agency staff, with 25 of a target 30 roles filled, while the number of children in the council’s care had dropped to 389.

Cabinet member for finance Coun Pete Stoddart said £8.7-million total overspend  “demonstrates a significant reduction” in the figure forecast halfway through the financial year, of £13.8 million.

As local authorities are obliged by law to balance their books, the excess will be made up from the council’s cash reserves – which Coun Stoddart put at £82.8 million in total.

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“Herefordshire Council’s financial position remains very stable, with a deliverable balanced budget for 2024/25, and strong reserves which will only increase,” he said.

On capital spending meanwhile, the council significantly underspent its £68.4 million budget, by £21.1 million, Coun Stoddart said. Of this, £4.8 million was due to projects coming in under-budget, while £15.3 million will be rolled forward into the current financial year.

Greens leader Coun Ellie Chowns pointed out that the council had spent none of the £1-million capital development fund, intended to prepare “shovel-ready projects” in anticipation new government funding awards.


And it had spent just £1.2 million of a budget £4.3 million on its home upgrade grant to improve the energy efficiency of the county’s houses, she said.

Cabinet member for environment Coun Elissa Swinglehurst said Herefordshire was “delivering more than most other counties on improving our older, leaky housing stock”.

“It’s worth getting in touch if you feel you qualify for this grant,” she added.