Doncaster Council facing budget black hole as bosses point to rising social care costs and 'pandemic pressures'

Doncaster Council is facing a multi-million pound black hole in its finances as bosses point to rising costs in social care, wages and pressures of the pandemic.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 10:01 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 10:02 am
Doncaster mayor Ros Jones

Council bosses have confirmed they’re estimating a funding gap of around £8.3 million for 2022/23 and £12.2 million over the next three financial years.

They added that the main pressures are in adult and children’s social care with some of the additional pressures relating to the pandemic.

A report seen by councillors also highlights ‘significant pressures’ in relation to the ring-fenced Dedicated Schools Grant which allocates money to schools based on deprivation and other factors.

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Finance chiefs also said there was ‘considerable uncertainty’ in relation to forecasting funding from central government.

The Chancellor’s Autumn budget and Spending Review in October, 2021 ‘provided some details’ but bosses added that the funding settlement for Doncaster ‘is expected to be made available by mid-December.

Doncaster mayor Ros Jones said the council now had 29 per cent less funding in real terms than it did 10 years ago and this equated to £350 per resident. She added that the borough had been ‘one of the hardest hit’ from austerity measures.

She said: “As a well-managed council, we have weathered past financial storms with prudently managed finances and careful planning.

“We have faced continued uncertainties in our funding over the years, and are also seeing volatility in our costs and income generated, which are worsened by the pandemic.

“Despite all these challenges, we have been able to previously set a balanced budget allowing us to protect our most vulnerable residents and continue investment across the borough.

“The council set a balanced budget for this financial year and that will always be our goal in future years. However, we have to recognise how difficult this will be and we will continue to take a robust approach to identifying the scale of the financial challenge.

“Over the next few months, we will be working hard to address how we bridge the gap with our support for Doncaster people, communities and businesses remaining at the forefront of all decision making.”

Further work will be undertaken over the next few months to develop ways to meet the increased budget gap identified. The provisional settlement will be received mid-December and the final budget will be considered by Full Council by February 2022.