Budget 2024/25 FAQs

What does the council spend its budget on?

Watch Lezley Picton explain

Around 77% of the council’s day-to-day budget goes on adults and children’s social care services, which support the most vulnerable people in the county’s communities.

The remaining budget is spent on waste and recycling, highways, leisure, youth services, housing, outdoor spaces and much more; services that people in Shropshire use every day.

How has the budget gap developed?

Councils all over the UK are facing pressure to their budgets, from increased demand for their services and increased costs of delivering these services.

For example, the number of children coming into residential care, funded by Shropshire Council, has almost doubled since 2020. In adult social care, the number of working age adults who need support has also increased. At the same time, costs of goods (such as fuel) have gone up because of high rates of inflation over a long period of time.

This is even more of a challenge for councils in rural areas, like Shropshire, because people who use council services are spread out over a larger area. This means that travelling time is longer and fuel costs are higher and it costs more to deliver many services than it does in towns and cities. The Rural Services Network Fair Funding Campaign explains more.

What are the next steps?

Like every local council, Shropshire is legally required to set a balanced budget. In December 2023, we published a draft Medium Term Financial Strategy that set out our plans for the new financial year and to 2028.

We have had over 1,000 responses to our budget consultation which began in December 2023.

Feedback from this has informed the final Medium Term Financial Strategy, which was approved by full council on 29 February 2024.

This will include full details of services that will be reviewed. Some will change, some will be reduced and some will stop altogether. Any significant changes to public services will go through further public consultation before final decisions are made.

Which services could be reduced or stopped?

By law, the council has a statutory duty to deliver some services to a certain level. Anything beyond this is known as a discretionary service; local government has the power to provide these when resources are available but is not legally required to.

As such we must focus our resources on those services we are legally required to provide and to do so at the right level.

Some of the proposed changes include:

  • Reducing the number of libraries that are run by the council
  • Reviewing and reducing the number of leisure centres
  • Reducing the number of household recycling centres
  • Charging for green waste collections at – households could opt out of this collection if they wish
  • Reducing the number of council buildings and other assets and accelerating the move from Shirehall into alternative offices
  • Change how we meet the transport needs of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities – a consultation on this has already begun

The full list of services being reviewed can be found in the Medium-Term Financial Strategy (MTFS)

Significant service changes will need to go through consultation and approvals process before they are made.

How many jobs will be lost?

We cannot be precise at this stage but clearly we cannot make the savings we need to and stop or reduce services without becoming a smaller organisation. We are looking at a reduction of around 300 posts from the council. Some proposals will need consultation with staff and the public and may change after this. We will also be exploring how services that are reducing or ceasing can be differently funded, continue outside of council control or other ways that help reduce the impact for local people as far as possible. This may impact on this number. Wherever possible we will be doing all we can avoid compulsory redundancies.

What is the difference between capital and revenue budgets?

Lezley Picton explains the crucial difference between these budgets in the following video...

How can the council spend money on projects like Smithfield Riverside or the North West Relief Road when services are being cut?

Council budgets include capital spending and revenue spending, and these can be explained in household terms to make them simpler to understand.

Capital spending is one-off spending on things such as new buildings, machinery, equipment and even roads – in household terms it’s like buying a house.

Revenue spending is the cost of running our day-to-day services – to continue the household example this would be grocery shopping, energy bills and monthly mortgage or rent.

For the council, the North West Relief Road and Smithfield Riverside are both capital spending – costs that will be incurred once.

However, the £62m funding gap and pressure is on our day-to-day running costs like contracts with suppliers of services, staff salaries and running costs for buildings and vehicles. These are our revenue costs.

By law, councils cannot use capital funding for revenue spending. The Government offers incentives such as special grants and access to affordable borrowing to help councils fund capital projects, as these can have a long-term benefit for communities.

For example, the initial phase of the Smithfield Riverside development has been funded by the Government’s Levelling Up Funding and can only be used for this purpose.

The Secretary of State for Transport in October 2023 committed to fund the North West Relief Road.

As such these capital schemes will carry on, alongside our plans to make the savings we need in our day-to-day costs of delivering essential services that support the most vulnerable people in Shropshire.

When will any service changes take effect?

Many of the significant changes listed in the Medium Term Financial strategy will need to follow a formal procedure of assessment, consultation and approval before they are made. The timeline below is an approximate guide:

15 Feb 2024 – Our medium-term financial strategy is published with savings

21 Feb 2024 – Our Cabinet considers these proposals

29 Feb 2024 – Council budget set and savings proposals agreed

Spring 2024 – Public consultation on significant changes to services, for example charging for green waste

Spring 2024 to autumn 2024 – Discussions with partner organisations about the possibility of taking over and running council assets or services such as library or leisure provision

Summer 2024 – Consultations with services affected by proposed changes and any alternative ways to
make savings

June/July 2024 – The first report on the impact of measures to reduce demand, spending and whether
further action is required

Autumn 2024 – Start of implementation of service changes that need public consultation

Winter 2024 – If demand for services does not reduce and more funding is not available to meet these 
pressures, as we set our next budget we may need to find further savings

How will we accelerate any move out of Shirehall?

Maintaining Shirehall is a significant revenue cost to the council and starting the process of leaving Shirehall sooner will help reduce our budget gap. We are looking now at what we can do to ensure this happens much quicker than originally planned and what other venues in council or partner ownership can be used to help accelerate this. We will keep you updated on how this progresses.

The MTFS refers to charges for car parking at council offices. What does this mean?

One area we need to explore is options around charging for parking at council buildings. While we understand that many of you can choose to work remotely, some of you are required to work in one or more of our offices. Right now, we haven’t got any detail to share with you about what this would mean for employees. There’s a lot of work yet to do and we will ensure that we keep you fully informed as this develops and before any decisions are made.