Bristol City Council tasked with finding £31million to balance next year’s books

Next year finance chiefs forecast the council will need to spend £467 million in its general fund

Rising costs and demand for expensive social care has left Bristol City Council needing to find an extra £31 million next year to balance the books.

Double-digit inflation means many of the goods and services the council spend money on are now much more expensive. Increasing demand for local services like care homes are also adding to the pressure on the council’s budget.

Council bosses are already preparing for next year’s budget, which will be signed off in February a few weeks before the financial year begins in April.

New money-saving plans will soon be published for the public to have their say on, which could mean reduced services.

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said: “In some core services we will need to change the way we do things to focus our attention on those who need support most.

“There are also some other things we won’t be able to continue to do, and, in many cases, we will have further conversations with our partners on how the city can, collectively, support those services, actions, and activities we can no longer sustain.”

Details of the financial pressures facing the council were published ahead of a cabinet meeting on Tuesday (October 4).

These include how finance chiefs are forecasting the council will need to spend £31.1 million more than it will likely receive in income next year.

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees says greater investment is required

Councillor Craig Cheney, deputy mayor for finance, said: “Households, businesses and charities are feeling the pressure of rising costs and unfortunately the council and city economy are not immune from these pressures.

“In the absence of Westminster reversing more than a decade of austerity towards local government, we’re left with little option but to hone down our spending and in many cases bring forward the changes we expected to make in future years to make immediate savings.”

Next year finance chiefs forecast the council will need to spend £467 million in its general fund, but will only receive funding of £436 million.

The funding gap is expected to grow over the next five years, peaking at £37.5 million in 2027.

Cllr Cheney added: “We’re not approaching this from a standing start and have been forecasting the need to reduce the amount the council delivers since 2018.

“We’ll soon publish our proposals for finding the savings and income needed to balance the budget, and encourage all in the city to engage with this challenge, so our final plan is fully informed.”