SPENDING across all Shropshire Council services has been frozen amid a raft of money-saving measures.

Chief executive Clive Wright has told all council staff that the cabinet has asked him to implement a spending freeze with immediate effect.

In an email seen by the Advertizer, Mr Wright said: "This year’s budget is proving to be a challenge and consequently I have been asked by the cabinet to implement a spending freeze across the council with immediate effect.

"This means that officers should not commit any expenditure that can be avoided. In previous years trusting staff to apply appropriate and discretionary judgement has delivered excellent results and so this approach will be taken again this year."

Mr Wright also outlined other money-saving measures, including asking staff to work from home on the last Friday of every month, which would " begin out transition to mobile and agile working".

Shropshire Council also plans to close all buildings at midday on Friday from January 2019 and ask staff to work on a "mobile and agile basis".

The chief executive also asked staff to print documents only when necessary in a bid to tackle a "colossal" £300,000 annual bill.

He added: "We realise that some of these initiatives will cause problems for some staff and this is an opportunity to raise these with your line manager.

"As we move to become a more mobile and agile organisation we need to identify problems and barriers quickly and find solutions.

"I am confident that with your help the budget overspend can be reduced. I am grateful in advance for your cooperation."

Officers confirmed in September that an overspend of £6.7 million was being predicted, based on the financial report for the first quarter of 2018/19.

Shropshire Council leader, Councillor Peter Nutting, said:

“Today’s decision to introduce a spending freeze across the council follows the need to get this year’s budget under control, as we always do, despite the pressures.

“An ever-increasing number of vulnerable people need support which has meant that our adults and children’s social care services are under more pressure than ever. Despite allocating a further £10million to Social Care for  2018/19, increasing demand in this area now suggests another £5million is required this year; funding that we just don’t have. This isn’t just a Shropshire issue, it’s happening all over the country. But, here in Shropshire, the costs per person for care remain low, whilst quality is high, and we want this to continue.

“We had hoped that the Autumn Statement would help with recognised pressures in social care. We expect to get some additional funding but it isn’t going to be anywhere near the additional £15m cost for this year alone. We don’t know how much we will get, as that hasn’t been announced yet, but we know it is a ‘one off’ rather than in the our base budget for next year and the years after.

“Spending freezes delay expenditure on things like buying new equipment, where this can happen. We will of course try to minimise the impact on frontline services.

“We will also be encouraging staff to work more flexibly as part of our transition to mobile and agile working. We are not closed for business, we will simply be working in a different way.”