Leading councillor defends Staffordshire's £3.5m underspend
A council has been “careful” about where it has spent money, according to a senior councillor who has defended an underspend at the authority despite millions of pounds worth of cuts.
It was revealed last week that Staffordshire County Council spent £3.5 million less than it budgeted for during 2018/19 at the same time it announced huge cuts to save £35m. There is, however, set to be a £3.3m overspend for the first three months of 2019/20. The underspend meant the authority did not need to dip into its rainy day contingency fund.
Cabinet member Jonathan Price said the county council had a duty to be responsible about where it spends taxpayers’ money. He said: “We have got rising costs in adult social care and rising costs in children’s services. We may have an underspend currently but our reserves are low and being used to support the most vulnerable people in Staffordshire.”
Council bosses announced massive budget cuts last year, partly funded by increasing council tax and having several libraries taken over by volunteers. A 75 per cent drop in funding for the voluntary and community sector was also announced, while a £148,000-a-year director was axed to save cash. Councillor Price insisted the county council needed to prioritise where it spends money, as he attacked the Government over funding of local authorities. He said: “It just shows we have been very careful with what we spend money on.”