Council finances, affordable housing, and more temporary accommodation for the most vulnerable led the agenda at a meeting of Cornwall Council’s cabinet committee yesterday.

The meeting, held at New County Hall in Truro on Wednesday September 22, began with the presentation of special commemorative coin to chief executive Kate Kennally to mark the council’s efforts in helping to host the G7 summit earlier this year.

The coin, usually reserved for chief constables involved in the organisation of such events, was presented by council leader Cllr Linda Taylor on behalf of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cornwall and Devon, Alison Hernandez.

Following the presentation, Cllr David Harris, deputy leader and portfolio holder for property, set out the economic challenges facing the council when he introduced the performance report for quarter one of the 2021/22 financial year.

He told the meeting: "Like all local authorities across the country, Cornwall Council is facing unprecedented financial challenges.

"These financial pressures have been growing over a number of years and are partly due to a combination of the continuing rise in the number of those needing adult social care, and the impact of the pandemic over the past 18 months, which has impacted on every aspect of the Council’s budget.

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"These pressures have accelerated an already challenging financial situation.

"We are putting plans in place to deal with this difficult situation and are looking at different, more efficient ways of delivering our services.

"The latest forecast position – at the end of August – is an overspend of just under £18m, a small reduction in terms of overall but still a significant amount of money.

"Things we are looking at doing include accelerating future years savings plans and reducing or delaying the Capital Programme by around 20%.

"This in itself will not only reduce the amount of money spent but will also mean we can redo our borrowing budget and make significant in year savings in that.

"There is no doubt we will need to use some of our reserves this year, but this cannot be done on an ongoing basis.

"It will therefore mean making some tough decisions over the next few months and making choices about what is really important to residents which will always come first when we are making decisions."

Other items for discussion at yesterday's meeting was an audit of the council’s Local Plan strategic policies, which cabinet members promised would close any loopholes that could allow inappropriate and damaging housing developments from taking place, while ensuring a supply of affordable housing.

The meeting also saw the approval of a new £15 million temporary accommodation programme in order to address a rise in the number of individuals and families in priority need of housing over the past 12 months.