DCC performance against budget for the year to 31 March 2018 was an overspend of £4.9m. This was offset by savings made elsewhere giving a break even result for the year
The Council identifies savings through its Forward Together programme, which is managed by the Forward Together Board. 2016-17 was the first year in which savings targets were not achieved, with a shortfall of £2.7 million.
The Council also fell £3.4 million short of its £18 million savings target in 2017-18 though it is important to note that other short-term measures to reduce costs were taken during the year. DCC is aiming to make savings of £18.8 million this year 2018-19
Adult and Community Services is the largest spender. In 2017/18 it accounted for £126.2 million, 49% of the County Council’s total budget. It is already over budget in 2018.
In line with national trends, the cost of providing care for children continues to be a challenge. It too is already over budget in 2018.
There are more children, with increasingly complex needs being placed in higher-cost, residential placements or in independent fostering placements. This has led to increased focus on modernising the County Council’s fostering service; to increase the number of foster carers available locally and to ensure they can meet the needs of the most vulnerable children.
It’s not just in Dorset, by the way. Somerset is still teetering on the financial edge whilst closer to home, Emma Rawson, headteacher at Stourfield Junior School in Southbourne, has told parents her school can no longer afford to provide a hot school meals service because of budgetary pressures.