A meeting of Herts County Council’s Resources and Performance Panel has been told that it is uncertain whether the council’s hiring freeze announced last week will close the gap caused by a projected £16.3 million overspend. The freeze, which the council is calling “recruitment prioritisation” was announced in September when the scale of the overspend in the first three months of the year came to light.
Other savings have reduced the expected overspend by around £3 million.
Liberal Democrat Resources spokesperson County Councillor Tim Williams said, “There is some contingency in the budget but the council still needs to find another £3 million to end the year on target. The “recruitment prioritisation” seems to be the only proposal to do this, but nobody knows whether it will save what is required. It excludes so-called “Statutory Services” – those things that the council is obliged to do – but many people are dependent on services which don’t fall into this category. There is a real risk of the council failing to meet its financial targets and impacting services at the same time.”
The largest portion of the overspend at £12.9 million is from children’s services but £1.6 million is the result of the failure of Herts Living, the council’s property company, to make expected payments to the council.