The biggest spending cuts in Swindon Borough Council's history are set to be made.

That's according to a report on plans for the budget for 2024-25 submitted by the Labour administration, elected for the first time in 20 years.

And unless something significantly changes in the support available to the council from central government, or in the limit of the council tax increase it can make, there will be more cuts to come.

Growing demand for council services, especially in the areas of social care for elderly and vulnerable adults and social work and caring for children, combined with a higher rate of inflation, means just providing the same levels of services as in the 2023-24 budget will cost the Swindon taxpayer £4.4 million more than it did in 2022-23.

That means cuts of £18m have already been identified for next year’s budget – and there is still, potentially, another £14m to be found in savings.

The salutary report on how planning the budget is coming, to be made to the council’s cabinet by the cabinet member for finance Councillor Kevin Small, says they should “note the council’s serious financial position and the immediate requirement for urgent and clear action to address this, and that the Local Government Settlement for 2024/25 has yet to be published and therefore the funding position remains uncertain”.

That settlement is Whitehall’s grant to town and county halls and also will include the limits to any council tax increase an authority can make.

The report says it assumes the limit will be 4.99 per cent – made up of a 2.99 per cent increase for general spending and two per cent for adult social care, the largest part of the council’s budget which is expected to reach £172.9m

That will realise another £6.2m for the council, but crucially that has already been factored into the planning for next year’s budget and a potential spending gap of £14m still remains.

Cllr Small’s report says the growth in demand on the children’s services department is causing the most problems: “In line with the national picture, the largest area of expenditure pressure in 2024/25 relates to children’s social care due to increased placement costs as a result of a national shortage of suitable provision at the right level, resulting in higher cost placements.

“In addition, the improvement plan, linked to the Ofsted inspection findings, has identified the need for a significant increase in staffing.”

A fully drafted budget will be brought to cabinet and the council in February which will include the increases in council tax.

Any increases will take effect from April 2024.