Stark warning on spending from Devon finance chief

“We’re in the same position as every household in this country. We’re not immune to the current cost of living crisis and the inflationary pressures stoked up by the pandemic and Putin’s war on Ukraine. So we’ve got to tighten our belts.

“We are well known as a quietly efficient, well-run council but even we are now struggling to make ends meet and are staring at a large black hole in our budget.

“And with few useable reserves left in the bank to soften the blow we must start to consider action now to avert an even bigger problem later.

“Support to the most vulnerable is more important than ever during these difficult times and our essential frontline services have to be prioritised.

“Equally we must try to continue to support the local economy and keep on investing in our roads, transport and other vital infrastructure to help Devon bounce back from the pandemic.

“But global price increases and spiralling inflation are having a major impact on our day-to-day services and infrastructure projects and we are facing extraordinary additional costs at a time when budgets are already under strain.

“We have a legal obligation to balance our budget and so we have very little scope for meeting these pressures without cutting services, cancelling or delaying major infrastructure projects or proposing even higher council tax rises next year. Something that many local people can ill afford.

“With inflation likely to rise even further and remain high for some time, we are likely to face a winter of difficult decisions and tough choices.”

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