Suffolk County Council is forecast to overspend its budget by £22.3million owing to factors such as inflation and increased special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) school transport.

The authority is estimating it will need to spend more than 3% over its government-allocated budget of £688.1m for 2023/24.

It said issues like inflation, transporting children with SEND to and from school and looking after children in care and the principal reasons for the overspend.

There had been fears raised last month that cuts to services were on the horizon when the government financial settlement was unveiled.

School transport costs make up £11.4m of the forecast overspend, £8.3m of this being travel costs for SEND children.

About £8.2m of the overspend has been allocated for children in care.

Suffolk County Council had forecast to overspend by £29.3m, but this figure was revised down with the £7m expected to be received from an additional Section 31 grant from government and additional income from the pooling of business rates with the county's district and borough councils.

Suffolk County Council said overspending was expected at authorities across the country due to higher demand for their services, inflation remaining higher than expected for longer and interest rates rising to levels not forecast by financial markets.

Richard Rout, Suffolk County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for finance and environment, said: “Despite being able to publish a balanced budget in February, we are already having to spend more than we anticipated this year.

East Anglian Daily Times: Richard RoutRichard Rout (Image: Suffolk County Council)

“We set this year’s budget during a period of highly uncertain economic conditions. Even although the country is now starting to see price rises slowing and energy costs beginning to drop we are still suffering the cost impacts of various global shocks - in particular Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine.

“We are experiencing unexpectedly high demands on certain services, meaning some are spending disproportionately more than others. For example, costs for school transport and children in care make up two-thirds of the total overspend.”