Surrey County Council sets budget for next financial year – despite increasing pressure on local government finances

Surrey County Council has set its budget for the next financial year, despite increasing pressure on local government finances.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The councils 2024/25 budget includes more support for children with additional needs and disabilities, and greater investment in roads and buses.

With costs of delivering services rising faster than the council’s income, a combination of efficiency savings and an increase in Council Tax rate is needed to ensure a balanced budget.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The proposals were approved at a Full Council meeting on Tuesday, February 6.

Surrey County Council has set its budget for the next financial year, despite increasing pressure on local government finances. Picture courtesy of GoogleSurrey County Council has set its budget for the next financial year, despite increasing pressure on local government finances. Picture courtesy of Google
Surrey County Council has set its budget for the next financial year, despite increasing pressure on local government finances. Picture courtesy of Google

Introducing the budget, Council Leader Tim Oliver, said: “We take our duty and responsibility to the people of Surrey extremely seriously.

“We are making decisions with our residents’ council tax – a significant proportion of people’s household budgets – and with it, providing services they rely on every day, to improve their lives and stay safe and well.

“Ensuring we do that responsibly – setting a balanced budget, focusing on the right priorities, ensuring our foundations are strong for the future and our services are sustainable – is one of the most important duties we have.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“This is a solid budget, in the face of unprecedented pressure and challenge faced by local government in this country.

“Surrey leads the way in responsible financial management.”

The budget sets out all areas of council spending, with more than 70% of the total revenue budget for the year spent on caring for people with complex needs and disabilities, elderly people and children in care.

In addition, the more visible services like road maintenance, libraries, countryside management and community recycling centres are experienced by the most people.

And other services – such as Surrey Fire & Rescue Service, Trading Standards, and environmental and emergency management – are about keeping people safe and preventing or responding to serious incidents.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A specific allocation of £5m will be spent on preventative measures in Children’s Services, supporting young people and families as early as possible to improve their life chances.

High rates of inflation are impacting the council’s finances, with increasing cost of staff pay, contracts and supply chain. Additional money announced by government in the Local Government Finance Settlement – equating to around £11m for Surrey – is welcome but not enough alone to balance the budget.

As a result, over £53m of efficiencies have been identified across the council, and Council Tax will rise by 4.99% this year.

The budget report also includes a Medium-Term Financial Strategy, with funding pressures expected to grow over the next five years as costs continue to rise faster than income.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

An ambitious five-year plan of investment in infrastructure and property, includes schemes like new children’s homes, better school buildings, more modern care and supported living accommodation, new roads and improved town centres.

Alongside wider transformation of the council, including utilising new technology and more efficient ways to deliver services, this investment is designed to improve Surrey, reduce future demand on services, making them more sustainable and affordable to deliver in the long term.

Also approved at the council meeting was the appointment of Leigh Whitehouse as the County Council’s Interim Chief Executive from March 6, when current Chief Executive Joanna Killian leaves to take over at the Local Government Association.

Anna D’Alessandro will take on the responsibility of the council’s chief finance (151) officer while Mr Whitehouse acts up.

The council is currently advertising for a new permanent Chief Executive.

Related topics: