South Holland District Council offices in Spalding.

Rising staff costs in council budget

The amount South Holland District Council pays for its employees is estimated to rise to around £1.6m more next year than it originally estimated for this year, its budget shows.

According to the document, what the council pays towards its employees is expected to rise to just under £9.2m in 2019/20.

During the current financial year it was originally estimated to be £7.6m, but is now thought be increasing to £8.3m.

The budget says among the reasons for the rise are an “assumed” two per cent pay increase, “corrections of previous establishment budgeting errors”, reductions in agency costs, growth in the homeless service and an increase in the pension deficit costs.

When asked about the rise in what it pays for its employees, a council spokesman said: “The overall increase in the council net budget is £730k. The true growth in the council’s pay budget is £597k (7.2 percent), which is made up of increased establishment costs, pay award and employer contributions.

“The remaining increase in the employee line is offset by increases in grant income and recharges or reductions in other areas.”

The budget and the Mid Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) which relates to the council’s budget over the next few years went before the district council’s cabinet last week.

As previously reported, the SHDC share of council tax will rise by just under three per cent for the average Band D property equating to a rise of £4.95 per household per year.

The council’s budget shows that 629 extra properties will pay council tax in the next financial year.

The MTFS says that the authority holds “a healthy level of specific reserves”.

The total of the General Fund Reserves is estimated to be at £8.7m at the end of this financial year, and is estimated to decrease to £5.6m by March 2023. Housing Revenue Account Reserves is set to be £15.8m at the end of this financial year, up from £12.8 at the end of the last financial year.

The MTFS also states the council has around £179m worth of fixed assets which includes equipment and the land it owns.

SHDC’s deputy leader Coun Nick Worth told the authority’s cabinet: “The future as we know it of funding is far from certain and I can’t emphasise that enough.

“There’s an unprecedented level of change forecast for 2021 onwards. Fortunately we’ve very prudent financial management. It’s a balanced budged in 2019/20.

“It assumes a £4.95 increase on a Band D council tax and importantly no cuts to service delivery and in fact we will improve our services and invest in those services.

“We are probably one of the few councils in a strong financial position.

“We’ve got some nice healthy reserves and with that volatility that’s around that’s a nice position to be in.”

UPDATED – Following the publication of this article online, South Holland District Council released a statement claiming it was “inaccurate”.  –

We have changed the headline of the online version of the article but stand by the figures quoted in the article itself and the article and headline that appeared in this week’s edition of The Voice.

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