Single child's care placement could cost Peterborough City Council £2.6m this year

It makes up more than a third of the council’s projected overspend for 2023/4
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A single child could cost Peterborough City Council (PCC) as much as £2.6m this year, financial documents reveal.

The council’s most recent budget report says that one young person’s social care placement is projected to make up more than a third of its forecasted £6.4m overspend for the 2023/4 financial year.

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Children’s services more generally make up £4.2m of this figure as the authority says it must accommodate more children with complex needs requiring care.

Peterborough City CouncilPeterborough City Council
Peterborough City Council
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Councils are required to produce a balanced budget every year and can offset overspending on particular services with underspending on others as well as by making savings and dipping into their reserves.

But while PCC says it’ll closely monitor and mitigate financial risks that emerge this year, it also faces budget gaps of £6.2m next year (2024/25), £8.6m the year after (2025/6) and £13.8m the year after that (2026/7).

PCC’s budget report also reveals an £100,000 projected overspend on legal services “principally due to the additional costs of an Interim Head of Legal Services role and an increase in the use of external solicitors due to staff shortages”.

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PCC’s director for legal and governance was dismissed in August; her interim replacement is Adesuwa Omoregie, while the interim head of legal services position remains vacant.

Regional Pool woes lead to £400k culture and leisure overspend

Even greater is the £400,000 overspend on culture and leisure related to the unexpected closure of the Regional Pool and “delays in establishing the subsidiary company which will run leisure, libraries and heritage services”.

The Regional Pool has closed multiple times this year, with Legionalla bacteria being found at the facility on two occasions, damaged asbestos found in a ceiling tile and reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) being identified at the pool.

This final issue “is yet to be quantified” from a financial point of view, the council says, and the pool currently remains closed.

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These budgetary pressures must be navigated by PCC’s new administration in the coming months.

Its cabinet, led by leader Cllr Mohammed Farooq (Peterborough First, Hargate and Hempsted), met publicly for the first time this week and noted the content of the council’s budget report as well as its medium term financial strategy (MTFS).

A budget for the next financial year must be completed in early 2024.