Wiltshire Council is on track to achieve a slight underspend for the 2023/24 financial year of around £0.4m.

This was revealed in the council’s second formal financial update reports, which were discussed in the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, November 14.

This is an improvement from the £0.3m overspend which was forecast at the end of quarter one.

The information from the second quarter is based on data up to September 30, 2023.

During the meeting, Councillor Richard Clewer, the leader of Wiltshire Council, said: “It’s good news because when you look at every other council, when I discuss with all the other leaders of county councils of whatever political persuasion, the first thing they all say is ‘what is your budget gap this year?’, and if I say it’s positive, jaws drop to the table and they start quietly asking how, because no one else is getting that.”

Nevertheless, there were overspends in expected areas of the budget, such as a £3.208m overspend in adult services and a £1.154m overspend in education and skills.

The capital budget was also discussed in the cabinet meeting, having risen from a forecast £189m at the end of quarter one to £195m at the end of quarter two.

The capital budget will typically fluctuate over the year along with the projects it finances, such as the River Park project in Salisbury.

According to the council, its average annual capital spend is more than £100m per year.

More than £66m of the capital budget has been spent so far this financial year, which is approximately 34% of the revised forecast.

In a statement following the meeting, Councillor Nick Botterill, cabinet member for finance, said: “We continue to monitor our own financial situation prudently, robustly and in a transparent way.

“We are running in effect what is an in-year balanced position.

“This is due to our continued investment in preventative and early help services, our financial planning approach, focus on cost control, overall efficiency and savings delivery.

“We’re in control of our finances and able to deliver services in a financially resilient way; in effect doing more with each pound we spend.

“We have taken a long-term strategic approach to our budget, which included effectively setting a balanced budget for the next three years in February.”

Despite the positive data found in the reports, the council has warned it still faces significant pressures, particularly due to high and unpredictable inflation, as well as rising service demand.