“Boom in council ‘stealth’ taxes for waste removal and funeral services”

“Families have been hit by a huge rise in local “stealth” taxes over the past decade as councils introduce garden and bulky waste removal charges and raise the cost of funeral services, pest control and even public lavatories.

Analysis by The Times of council accounts shows that revenue from environmental, regulatory and planning charges has increased by almost 50 per cent to £2.3 billion since 2009.

Last year, revenue from these charges increased by more than two and a half times the rate of inflation as councils scrambled to raise cash after ten years of austerity. This means every home in England is now paying an average of more than £100 a year in council charges on top of their average council tax bill of £1,671.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

A quarter of Devon’s children live in poverty says Devon County Council

It’s what people voted for when they voted Conservative for continued austerity.

“A quarter of Devon’s children are living in poverty once housing costs taken into account.

More than 35,000 children in Devon are living in poverty once housing costs are taken into account, councillors have heard.

A Children’s Services Self-Assessment went before Devon County Council’s Children’s Scrutiny Committee last Monday which provided an up-to-date evaluation of the needs of children and families in Devon.

The report outlined how 14 per cent of the local authority’s children are living in poverty (before housing costs), but that rises to 25 per cent (after housing costs) are taking into account.

More than 10 per cent of children are entitled to free school meals, the report added, and also says that 41,000 households in the county are affected by fuel poverty.

Cllr Rob Hannaford, chairman of the Children’s Scrutiny Committee, said that the figures were shocking and in many areas, including Devon, growing up in poverty is not the exception but the rule.

Commenting on the report after the meeting, he said: “These local figures for child poverty in Devon are truly shocking, and it’s completely unacceptable and wrong in 2019, in one of the richest countries in the world, that we are still dealing with this most basic of issues affecting so many children.

“Large numbers of people seem to just wrongly assume that because we live a beautiful part of the country, that we don’t experience the same serious social problems that other areas do. These new figures again show in stark reality that this is just not the case, and much of our poverty and hardship is hidden by the affluence that some others have.”

Cllr Hannaford added: “Thousands more families across Devon, are living on the cusp of the poverty line. One unexpected setback – like redundancy or illness – could push them into the poverty trap.

“Overall there are more than four million children in the UK growing up in poverty. The situation is getting worse, with the number set to rise to five million by 2020. And those poverty rates have risen for every type of working family – lone-parent or couple families, families with full and part-time employment and families with different numbers of adults in work. This is the first time in two decades this has happened, and incredibly it is happening at a time of rising employment, and these figures in Devon are in line with these trends.

“But the evidence is clear – poverty can make existing vulnerabilities worse. Growing up in poverty puts at risk the building blocks of a good childhood – secure relationships, a decent home, having friends and fun, and an inspiring education.

“A child is said to be living in poverty when they are living in a family with an income below 60 per cent of the UK’s average after adjusting for family size. So it’s just not acceptable that some people still seem to trot out the same old tired response that no one is really in poverty these days, and it’s like Victorian times or the 1930s, such as when children didn’t have shoes on their feet.

“My grandparents were brought up in near slum conditions, and at times they also did not have proper shoes, and went hungry, are we really seriously saying that we want to inflict all this misery and hardship on children today?”

He continued: “Clearly the biggest driver for children’s poverty nationally and locally is the profound lack of social, affordable, decent housing. The figures are stark. 120,000 children in England are living in temporary accommodation. There are also 90,000 children living in families who are ‘sofa-surfing’. And of course this accommodation is usually terrible.

What is poverty in the UK?

“B&Bs where sometimes the bathroom is shared and there is nowhere to cook. Places where vulnerable adults can be living on the same corridor. Office block conversions – individual flats the size of a parking space, where families live and sleep in the same single room. And even converted shipping containers – cramped and airless – hot in the summer, freezing in the winter. This is a reality that shames the whole nation.

“Rising living costs, low wages and cuts to benefits are creating a perfect storm in which more children are falling into the poverty trap. Shockingly, two thirds of children living in poverty have at least one parent in work. Many families are struggling to cope with the rising cost of living. The prices of essentials like food and fuel are going up and this hits Britain’s poorest families hardest. We know that parents are skipping meals so they can afford to feed their children, and in winter many families are forced to make the impossible choice of feeding their children or heating their homes.

“So we know what actually causes child poverty and we know how to end it. We know that the income of less well-off families has been hit by severe real-terms cuts in benefits and by higher housing costs. And we know that work does not always guarantee a route out of poverty, with two thirds of child poverty occurring in working families.

“Yet in many areas, including Devon, growing up in poverty is not the exception, it’s the rule, with more children expected to get swept up in poverty in the coming years, with serious consequences for their life chances. Policy makers can no longer deny the depth and breadth of the problem, and the Government must respond with a credible long term child poverty reduction strategy.”

The report revealed that in primary schools, 10.9 per cent of pupils are entitled to free schools meals, and 10 per cent in secondary schools, but Cllr Hannaford feared that the numbers were in reality much higher.

He added: “The percentage is shocking, but there is a feeling in rural areas that it may be more as there is a stigma about people and they don’t claim it so they don’t have the finger pointed at in the local community.”

Cllr Margaret Squires, who represents the Creedy, Taw & Mid Exe ward, added her concerns to those of Cllr Hannaford.

She said: “A headteacher who had moved down here from London said to me the deprivation they see is different. Down here, people don’t want others to know they have free school meals, so they are working every hour they can. But it means that the children are missing out as the parents are so tired, they haven’t got the time to sit and listen to them read.

“I my area, we are virtually fully employed, but some of them work two jobs so they can live in the area, and to survive, they are working all these hours, but it not recorded as deprivation as they don’t have time to sit and read with their children.”

The figures in the report showed at as of September 1, 2019, 771 children were being looked after by the council – a rate of 54.8 per 10,000 children – an increase from 750 – 52.2 per 10,000 children – at March 31.

At September 1, 2019, 3,219 children had been identified through assessment as being formally in need of a specialist children’s service, an increase from 3,318 in March 2019, but the number of children subject of a child protection plan had decreased from 518 to 505 between March and September.

The report also said that there were 25 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the area, and that eight children and young people who turned 18 years old and who were in the care of the local authority were living in unsuitable accommodation during 2018-19.

Cllr Linda Hellyer questioned what the council was doing about it, why they were unsuitable, and what have we done to get them somewhere better.

In response, Darryl Freeman, Head of Children’s Social Care, explained that the definition of unsuitable included prison, where two of the eight were in custody. He added that the council will continue to work with them, assuming they allow them to remain in touch, and to ensure that they have choices once they leave custody.

The report also added that the top three risks for the future were increase in demand, across all services, recruitment and retention, particularly of experienced social workers, and sufficiency of provision for special needs children and placements for Children in Care.

The council also earlier this year adopted a new Children and Young People’s Plan, which is the single plan to co-ordinate developments for the next three years

Each priority in the plan has a detailed strategy/ action plan below it with a multi-agency group led by a senior manager from the partnership.

The self-assessment report was noted by the committee.

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/child-poverty-devon-truly-shocking-3579939

“Poor urban councils bear majority of Tory funding cuts, study shows”

“Drastic cuts to local government funding have seen the UK’s most deprived metropolitan areas “shoulder the burden of austerity” while some more prosperous counties have flourished, according to new research.

Analysis by the TUC and public service union Unison of central government funding for local councils in England since 2010 highlights a yawning chasm between urban and rural areas. It shows that , overall, councils in England are spending £7.8bn a year less on key services than they did in 2010, which equates to a cut of £150m a week.

The analysis reveals that the 20 councils with the biggest funding gaps are overwhelmingly metropolitan boroughs in London and the north of England. Of these 18 are controlled by Labour; only one is Conservative-run.

In contrast, the 20 councils with the smallest funding cuts are overwhelmingly all Conservative-controlled county councils. Of these, 16 are controlled by the Conservatives and just two are Labour-run.

The analysis – using methodology employed by both the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Centre for Cities – found that Labour-run Salford Council is spending 38% – or £99m a year – less on key local services than a decade ago. That works out to £479 a year less per resident. …”

The Local Government Association estimates that in the past eight years, councils in general have lost 60p out of every £1 the government used to provide prior to the funding cuts. This has left councils increasingly reliant on raising income through council tax, business rates and other charges and fees. Urban councils in more deprived areas have found this task more difficult than their rural counterparts.

“Poorer parts of England have suffered most from the Conservatives’ local government cuts,” said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady. “By slashing central government funding, they have made deprived areas shoulder the burden of austerity. We need fair and sustainable funding for all of our communities. Key services have been cut to the bone.”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis agreed: “Local services hold communities together, but nine years of austerity has put paid to that. We’ve seen libraries shut, care visits reduced, allotments and parks sold off, youth centres closed, subsidised bus services scrapped and public conveniences axed. The government’s funding squeeze has forced councils to charge residents more, reduce key services or cut them altogether. Now the cupboard is virtually bare and some local authorities can no longer provide the legal minimum.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government said it could not comment as it is currently in election purdah.”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/nov/24/deprived-urban-areas-shoulder-burden-of-funding-cuts?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

“Guidance recommends sale of risky [council] investment properties”

“Councils should consider disposing of investment properties if they are unable to set aside enough reserves to cover potential losses, according to new guidance.

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) this week released long-awaited guidance on investment in property, prompted by concerns over the levels of risk being taken by local authorities in recent years. …”

Guidance recommends sale of risky investment properties

Casino councils (EDDC would like to be one)

EDDC story:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2019/11/04/eddc-a-casino-council/

“Gloucester city council has bought a local retail park for £54 million, almost four times its net annual budget.

It acquired St Oswalds from Hammerson, the FTSE 250 shopping centre owner that is seeking to sell all its out-of-town properties. Tenants at the site include B&Q, Homesense and Mothercare, which went into administration this month.

A spokeswoman for the council said that it could not yet comment on the acquisition because of a non-disclosure agreement.

Councils have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on commercial property in recent years as they try to create a rental income stream to plug funding cuts from central government. Some have sought to buy neglected shopping centres in their areas as part of regeneration plans.

However, critics have raised concerns about the extent to which councils have tied their futures to an uncertain property market. Retail park valuations have fallen sharply as a series of well-known store chains have fallen into administration or have used insolvency procedures to close shops or lower rents. Hammerson reported a 10.9 per cent fall in the value of its retail parks in the six months to the end of June.

The Conservative-led local authority in Gloucester created an £80 million property investment fund in 2017 to help to make up for a £2.6 million deficit anticipated for the subsequent five years. It said that it would borrow 100 per cent of the cash for the fund, indicating that it would seek to find money from the Public Works Loan Board, the government body that issues loans to councils for capital projects.

The Treasury has started to crack down on risky property acquisitions by local authorities by increasing interest rates on new loans from the board. Before last month, the government charged an interest rate margin of 0.8 percentage points over the gilt rate; this has more than doubled to 1.8 percentage points over the gilt rate.

Last month Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, criticised local authorities that had used borrowing from the board to buy “quite risky assets” outside their areas. He cited shopping centres, which he said “may well not turn out to be good investments at all and [are] only possible because the taxpayer is providing such attractive loans through the board”.

Source: The Times (pay wall)

Has Ingham broken purdah rules on Exmouth Queens Drive?

“Plans for a new Premier Inn for Kingsbridge and an Aldi for Ivybridge have been put on hold.

South Hams District Council were set to hold consultations with the public over the two schemes at the end of 2019, but they have now been delayed until the new year.

The delay has been blamed on the General Election being called and the pre-election Purdah period that means councils have to be careful not to do anything in public that could sway a member of the public to vote for one person or political party. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/general-election-puts-premier-inn-3554630

EDDC a “casino council”?

“East Devon’s attempts to ‘actively assess commercial investment opportunities’ could make them look like a ‘Casino Council’, it has been claimed.

Cllr Paul Arnott, leader of the East Devon Alliance, questioned the way the council’s careful choices consultation made it look like they were ‘punting an idea about the council being a development corporation’.

The survey, due to be sent out at random to 3,000 residents, asks for their views on services that East Devon District Council run and what is important to them as the council has to tackle a £2.7m funding gap over the next four years. …

Cllr Arnott though raised concerned about the wording in the document. Speaking at Wednesday night’s cabinet meeting, he said: “I worry that this will make us look like a casino council. We need to be informed and hear what services people want, but this looks like us punting an idea about us being a development corporation.

“I am not sure it is what people voted for or what they want, but in the survey, we have to be clear it is borrowed money that is being invested and have to detail it.”

Cllr Ben Ingham, leader of the council, replied and said that he wouldn’t use the same words to describe what the council is doing.” …

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/casino-council-claims-made-over-3498678

More flack for EDDC Leader Ingram on spending and transparency

Not looking good … now being attacked for  wanting to employ consultants to tell him what town centre problems are:

“East Devon District Council ‘lacks good detailed intelligence about its towns and their economic wellbeing’.

Cllr Ben Ingham, leader of the council, admitted: “This is not a good state of affairs,” when questioned at Wednesday night’s full council meeting.

It came after Cllr Mike Allen asked questions over the decision of the portfolio holder for economy, Cllr Kevin Blakey, to commission a major study into town centres.

Cllr Allen asked for an indication of the cost proposed and in the interests of proper transparency, for the Consultancy brief envisaged be put to the next Overview Committee for discussion before any expenditure is committed. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/east-devon-lacks-good-intelligence-3474769

“£14 Billion ‘wasted’ by the government on ‘botched’ outsourcing”

“The government has wasted at least £14 billion between 2016 and 2019 on poorly managed outsourcing contracts finds a report from the Reform Think Tank.

The report is based on an analysis of investigations by the National Audit Office NAO), Parliamentary Select Committees and other statutory bodies. The total value of the contracts investigated was £71.1 billion.

The Ministry of Defence accounts for 27 per cent of this waste. This includes a 17 year delay in the full decommissioning of nuclear submarines and a poorly planned army recruitment programme. This saw soldiers forced into backoffice jobs to clear an IT backlog created by an untested IT system created in partnership between the army and Capita.

Other examples include the vastly expensive liquidation of Carrillion, which cost the government at least £148 million as well as involving the time and resources of 14 government departments and public bodies.

Also the Department for Education continued to give Learndirect £105 million after the programme was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted. This should have led to the funding being withdrawn.

A third of the government’s annual budget is spent on outsourced services, at a total of ££292 Billion.

Reform is now calling for an independent regulator of the outsourcing sector which – unlike the NAO or Select Committees would have the power to enforce change and impose sanctions on failing providers.

Senior Researcher and Reform procurement lead, Dr Joshua Pritchard said “Our public services cannot function without outsourcing. But when it goes wrong, it’s taxpayers who end up footing the bill

“The £14.3 billion wasted as a result of poorly drawn up and managed government contracts is inexcusable.

“We need a new regulator with the power to prevent public money being squandered because of totally avoidable mistakes.”

£14 Billion ‘wasted’ by the government on ‘botched’ outsourcing

Is EDDC Leader Ingham “sowing division between communities”?

From a correspondent:

“Like many others, I have a complimentary copy of the Budleigh Journal put through my door which is usually very out of date.

Today –October 17th-I received the October 9th copy. Hence I have just read that EDDC Leader Ben Ingham thinks that it is unfair to villages that they subsidise the Budleigh Salterton free car park on the Green. Originally given to the Town by Lord Clinton.

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/consultation-on-pay-and-display-at-budleigh-car-park-1-6304735

What happens to the money received from all the beach huts in BS?

What happens to the money received from the Lime Kiln car park in the summer months, particularly on a hot day when it is difficult to find a car parking space?

And of course towns like BS and Sidmouth do have a very high council tax receipt.

There are cross subsidies on all forms of taxation. We do not expect someone with a chronic illness to pay for their NHS treatment. They are subsidised by those fortunate enough to remain healthy.

It is not helpful or wise for the Leader of the Council to sow division between communities”.

“Devolution white paper announcement accompanied by hint on unitary push”

So, Blackdown House could be a super-white elephant … worth less than Knowle, even at the Knowle’s knock-down price!

“Local areas could get more powers and cash from central government – but face government pressure to adopt unitary models, following this week’s Conservative Party conference.

Speaking this week at the conference in Manchester, chancellor Sajid Javid announced that the government was rebooting its devolution drive, promising a new white paper on the issue.

He said the move would give “more local areas more local powers to drive investments in the infrastructure and services they know they need”.

The English devolution white paper will set out how further powers and funding would be devolved across England, the Treasury said in a statement.

Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Henri Murison, welcomed the announcement, “particularly if it extends to taking more control of existing local spending from Whitehall, as well as retaining taxes raised locally and allowing areas to capture the additional revenues their investments generate.”

He said that passing investment directly to mayors and combined authorities was the best way of funding local transport services. …”

Devolution white paper announcement accompanied by hint on unitary push

Councils losing enthusiasm for commercial land and property acquisition

“The recent boom in council spending on land and buildings slowed last year, indicating that the craze for borrowing to invest in commercial property may be reaching its peak.

The government last week released final capital spending and receipts outturn figures for 2018/19.

The data showed spending in the “acquisition of land and existing buildings” category rising 8% to £4.4bn during the year.

However, this is a much smaller rise than recent years – spending in the category quadrupled from just over a billion pounds in 2014/15 to £4.1bn last year.

It is impossible to say how much of the spending in the category relates to commercial property.

However, when the provisional outturn data were released earlier this year, a source told Room151: “It is difficult to get figures that prove it, but the latest set of data seem to indicate a rise in commercial property investment by councils.

You just can’t prove it definitively.”

Speaking this week, Richard Harbord, former chief executive of Boston Borough Council, said: “I think it shows that it is levelling off.

“There are fewer opportunities and many authorities are prudently going as far as they are going to go on this.

“But also it is the continuing of austerity and the fact that as capital schemes which often take years to complete finish, councils are not replacing them with new schemes to assist the revenue effect.” …”

Rise in council spending on land and buildings slows

“Town Hall Rich List 2017-18”

“In 2017-18:

There were at least 2,441 council employees who received total remuneration in excess of £100,000. That’s 135 more than in 2016-17.

607 council employees earned over £150,000.

A total of 28 local authority employees received remuneration in excess of a quarter of a million pounds in 2017-18.

The local authority with the greatest number of employees receiving remuneration in excess of £100,000 was Essex council with 55 employees in total earning over this amount. Essex also had the highest number of employees earning over £150,000 at 13.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) presents the Twelfth Town Hall Rich List, the only comprehensive list of its kind, with council-by-council breakdown.

Praised in the past by politicians from across different political parties, it is the go-to guide for local government executive pay deals. It details the full remuneration and many of the names of all local council employees whose remuneration exceeds £100,000.

Many senior managers at local authorities have performed well in tough financial times. There are many reports of residents seeing no difference in the services they receive despite the necessary savings being made. However, the Town Hall Rich List also showcases the executives who have overseen failing departments, or received bumper pay-offs after poor performance in the job.

The research is a vital tool for taxpayers wanting to judge which authorities are delivering the best value for money.”

Full report here:

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/taxpayersalliance/pages/16524/attachments/original/1555592082/Town_Hall_Rich_List_2019.pdf?1555592082

Data – alphabetical by council:
https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/taxpayersalliance/pages/16524/attachments/original/1555590752/Town_Hall_Rich_List_2019.xlsx?1555590752

“District bosses accused of neglecting Cranbrook – but they say authority faces its own finanical pressures”

“The district council has been accused of neglecting its duties to support Cranbrook compared to other towns across East Devon.

In two letters sent to East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) deputy CEO, Richard Cohen, Cranbrook Town Council chairman Les Bayliss urged the authority to integrate Cranbrook and provide it with the same level of support it gives other towns. Cllr Bayliss said: “If Cranbrook is to continue to flourish, the community needs the district council’s investment.”

The town council has asked EDDC to help cover sizeable ground maintenance costs for Cranbrook’s country park.

Cllr Bayliss said a ‘substantial’ amount of council tax in Cranbrook – which is the fifth-highest tax in England out of more than 10,000 parishes – goes towards maintaining the green space. Cllr Bayliss said the maintenance costs are in the region of £200,000 per annum, adding: “It is clearly unfair that the cost burden is carried by Cranbrook taxpayers alone.”

The town council has also demanded the district council provides 500m² of commercial space in Cranbrook’s eagerly-awaited town centre. Cllr Bayliss said: “The development of [the] town centre in Cranbrook has not commenced to date, despite discussion among various partner organisations for many years.”

However, in a letter in response to the concerns, EDDC CEO Mark Williams blamed the district council’s own financial difficulties it faces in the short to medium-term future for its perceived lack of support.

He said: “It will increasingly be the case that communities will have to expect to fund their own assets as principal councils are fundamentally compelled by the Government to focus on statutory services.”

Mr Williams also dismissed the town council’s request for help funding the country park maintenance cost.

He said: “Representatives of our countryside service held extensive discussions with Cranbrook Town Council on a management plan that we initially submitted to [Cranbrook] Consortium with our proposals and costs associated with managing and adopting the country park… I assume that in seeking transfer of the land to the town council, you will have assessed the cost of managing and maintaining the land and reflected this in the precept amount you are charging your residents.”

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/cranbrook-funding-request-to-eddc-1-6298803

[Massive] “Price hike proposed at popular East Devon car parks – and free facilities could become pay-and-display”

“East Devon’s free car parks will become pay-and-display and charges at busy spots will rocket by 50 per cent under changes proposed by the district council.

The authority could raise an extra £400,000 a year by hiking costs at its most popular facilities and targeting those where motorists can currently stop off for nothing.

Evening and overnight stay levies will also be imposed at sites where there is presently no cost for drivers at these times. …”

Price hike proposed at popular East Devon car parks – and free facilities could become pay-and-display

Bournemouth council lends money to local NHS

“A South West Council has agreed a £14.9m loan to its local NHS foundation trust for a new pathology centre.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council last week agreed the loan, which, at an annual interest rate of 3.5%, will reap it £4.2m over the 15 year period of the loan.

The trust will use the cash to pay for a new pathology unit, which the trust hopes will lead to efficiency savings.

A report to councillors said that “it is important to emphasise that the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch NHS Foundation Trusts will be required to make £993k annual capital repayments and the associated interest payment regardless of their financial position, operational performance or success of the One Dorset Pathology service”.

Foundation trusts are not legally allowed to secure a loan against operational assets, so the loan will be unsecured, the report said.

However, it would be issued based on creditor assurance as laid out in Department of Health guidance.

A risk assessment carried out the council concluded that central government would pick up any liabilities if the trust got into financial difficulties and was dissolved.

“This means that all creditors of an FT are protected and all liabilities of all FTs are safeguarded,” the report said.

The trust will make repayments of just under £1m each year.

An interest rate of 3.5% has been based on a suggested rate of 2.75% plus the 0.75% EU state aid margin rate for organisations for strong and normal levels of collateral.

The council said that it would earn £2.4m more on the loan than if it invested it at the prevailing 15-year interest rate.

A one-off upfront arrangement fee of £45,000 will also be payable to cover due diligence and monitoring work.

The council has extended its normal five-year period for investments in order to allow the loan to be made.

The new pathology facility will either be built on land owned by the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospital at Castle Land East Bournemouth or by land purchased from the Council which is currently part of an adjoining site.

The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust provides healthcare to the residents of Bournemouth, Christchurch, East Dorset and part of the New Forest. It gained Foundation status in 2005.

The council follows two others which are known to have made similar loans to NHS trusts.

In 2014, Northumberland County Council finalised a loan of £100m to a local NHS trust, which used the money to buy itself out of its outstanding PFI contracts.

In May last year, Blackpool Council agreed a loan of £27.1m to Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to help restructure the trust’s debt.”

Council agrees £15m loan to NHS trust

“£28m budget black hole forecast for Devon County Council”

“A report to Devon County Council’s (DCC) cabinet meeting tells councillors that the total projected budget overspend, four months into the 2019/20 financial year, is £4.3m.

However, Mary Davis the county’s treasurer, says this figure assumes a funding shortfall of £15.8m for special educational needs and disability (SEND) will not be dealt with this financial year.

It also assumes planned contributions to reserves of £8m are not made.

The report said that, without these adjustments, the projected overspend would be £28.1m.

Mrs Davis’ report added: “The Government has announced additional funding for SEND in 2020/21 but nothing as yet for the current year.

“It is suggested that the deficit is not dealt with at the end of this financial year but held on the balance sheet as a negative reserve.

“It is not a solution, but it is a mechanism that gives more time for a solution to be found.”

The cabinet are recommended to note the budget monitoring forecast position.

Councillor Alan Connett, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said the projected £28 million shortfall highlights that Devon is being ‘short-changed’ by this Government.

He added: “More children and adults need the council’s support.

“Our schools are being cheated.

“They get around £300 per child less than the national average, and our children with special educational needs are being let down.

“Those that need our help the most are being denied by a Government that could act, but won’t.”

The cabinet agenda report says DCC could receive an extra £11.7 million next year and £9.5 million in 2021/22 for education, following the Government’s spending review, and an extra £8.6 million to help support children with special needs next year.

County council leader, Cllr John Hart, said: “We have been campaigning with headteachers, governors and parents for fairer funding for Devon’s schools and the promise to ‘level up’ under-funded areas is one I very much welcome.

“It’s also encouraging to see Mr Javid (Chancellor for the Exchequer) announcing a three-year funding cycle for education as compared to the single year for other services.”

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/devon-county-council-budget-forecast-deficit-1-6264239