Further to your article about Dorset Council being ‘cash rich’– local government finance is notoriously complex and I wanted to clarify a couple of points for your readers.

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The article refers to discussion held at the Audit and Governance committee.

The first paper received by the committee was on treasury management.

This paper describes how the council has inherited a number of investments and borrowing commitments from predecessor councils. Dorset Council has borrowing commitments of £180 million, which are offset by investments of £88 million and cash in the bank of £94 million.

Your headline of ‘cash rich’ could therefore be misleading – in reality the council only has £2 million more in the bank than it does in borrowing.

The Audit committee then went on to consider a second paper which examined the income and expenditure, identifying that the council is predicting an overspend of £4.8 million on its forecast for this financial year.

This has been well reported by the Echo as we continue to grapple with the challenges of low levels of funding from government whilst facing the pressure of increase in demand for services, in particular for adult social care given our ageing population.

I would like to reassure you the council is already making an annual saving of £10 million through the efficiencies from becoming a single unitary council, but this has been more than absorbed by the increase in demand for services.

If we had not become a unitary council, we would be in a much worse financial position.

Next month we will be publishing our budget proposals for 2022/23. We continue to grapple with the finance challenges we face and we continue to lobby Government ministers and local MPs to secure fairer funding for Dorset.

Cllr Gary Suttle

Portfolio Holder for Finance, Commercial and Capital Strategy

Dorset Council