Shropshire Council will discuss urgent measures to plug a £50m gap in its budget for the next financial year at a cabinet meeting next week.

Latest estimates predict a shortfall across both adult and children’s social care budgets, which the council says are driven by a rise in demand and inflationary pressures.

A report by the council’s Chief Finance Officer James Walton, set to be brought before the cabinet on Wednesday, December 13, shows the authority has made an unprecedented £38m of savings from its current budget – but warned that more would need to be found next year in order to offset the deficit in the adult and children’s social care portfolio.

“Great progress has been made through 2023/24 in our financial performance, but services are now at a point where further progress requires targeted support and organisation-wide leadership – it becomes ever-harder to secure savings at a local service level,” said Mr Walton.

“Without this work, the financial challenge next year would be far higher. However, the current year is also seeing significant budgetary challenge arising through social care demand.”

If the strategy is approved by cabinet, the council will be hoping to deliver £12m of social care savings over the next financial year with its mitigation proposals, which involve the increased use of technology and changes to some care services which will see them delivered at home.

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Other significant savings are expected to be found as part of a review of existing contracts and purchasing arrangements, while £22m is forecast to be saved as a result of changes to services in line with the authority’s target operating model.

A further £8m will be drawn from the authority’s existing reserves in order to balance the budget.

“Measures to manage social care demand pressures focus on meeting needs early and within the community where possible – this is preferred by residents and optimises outcomes for individuals. Ways to achieve this include changes to the engagement with social care providers, increased use of assistive technology, and work to redirect care to home-based delivery,” Mr Walton added.

“The need to appropriately safeguard children and adults will not be compromised through these mitigations. Rather, through more efficient and effective processes… together with improved approaches, we will enhance practices while still ensuring we protect our most vulnerable and meet statutorily required levels of service provision.”

Other significant pressures forecast for the budget include £12m attributed to “inflationary pressure” with a further £6m of savings not met from the current financial year having a knock-on effect.

Earlier this week, council Leader Lezley Picton painted a bleak picture of the authority’s financial position, warning that budget pressures could lead to the cutting of all but statutory services provided by the council, with libraries and leisure centres mentioned as being particularly vulnerable.

“The biggest issue we has is that coming up over the hill is an in-year budget pressure, and that is almost entirely around adult and children’s social care,” she told BBC Radio Shropshire.

“What we would effectively have to do is to say everything that is not statutory, gone.”