The county council is set to blow its budget by £24million this year as it tries to offset years of sustained government cuts, finance officers have reported.

As of May 31, the council had yet to identify £9million of the £104million worth of cuts it needs to make this year, and an extra £7million worth of savings was considered unachievable, the Conservative cabinet heard last week.

Surrey County Council’s children services department is on course to blow its budget by £12.1million, officers wrote in the finance and budget monitoring report placed before department heads.

The government has cut the council’s annual grant by £170million since 2010, while demand for adult social care, learning disabilities and children’s services is increasing.

From March: Surrey County Council plans to cut millions of pounds from frontline services in face of Conservative austerity

In March, the Tory-led council approved £72million worth of cuts to frontline services in an attempt to balance its budget. Last week, the cabinet heard that £30million worth of cuts have been made so far this year.

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Council leader David Hodge (pictured above) described the £30million worth of savings achieved in the first two months of the financial year as “good”, while cabinet members reiterated that the council faced “tough” challenges to meet its targets.

From December 2016: Surrey County Council forced to dip into 'largest ever use of reserves' to address £15 million overspend

From February 2017: Surrey County Council leader U-turns on plans for 15 per cent tax increase minutes before vote

But councillor Hazel Watson, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council said the forecasted overspend was due to the Tory cabinet setting “unrealistic” targets and the council failing to negotiate extra funding from the Conservative government.

She also argued that the Tory government’s payment of £1billion to the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to help prop up Theresa May’s minority government last week was “proof that the government can provide extra funding when it wants to and therefore could help to alleviate the financial crisis in Surrey - but has chosen not to do so”.

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Cllr Watson (pictured above) added: "Unless the government steps in with extra funding, Surrey County Council will find itself in a worsening financial position each year. I am calling for the government to recognise that reality and provide the funding that Surrey and other local authorities so desperately need.”

At a cabinet meeting on June 27, Council Leader David Hodge said: “In February the council set its budget for 2017/18 in the face of significantly rising demand pressures – particularly in adult and children’s social; care services – falling government funding and continuing restraint on our ability to raise funds locally.

“To balance the budget, the council had to make plays to deliver an unprecedented £104million worth of savings.”

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Claire Curran, cabinet member for children, said an increasing need for children’s services – including from an unspecified number of “unaccompanied asylum-seeking children”.

From June: County council consulting on plans to axe nearly £3million from housing to Surrey’s most vulnerable

“It is sad that in today’s society we do see many more children who are suffering abuse and neglect,” she said.

“At the same time we are seeing a very significant increase in the number of children who have special educational needs or disabilities and require our daily support.”

Cllr Curran added: “There is quite a significant shortfall between the money it costs us in helping these very needy young people and that the government does give us to meet their needs.”

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Mike Goodman (pictured above) said it was “regrettable” that the council last week launched a consultation on scrapping four recycling centres in an attempt to find savings.

From June: Surrey County Council’s proposed cuts to community recycling centres ‘would give green light to fly-tippers’, Liberal Democrat opposition councillor claims

“We know how much our residents value the service,” he said.

“(But) we do have a very challenging target. It’s really tough for the service this year, and there are no easy ways of saving the money.”

Colin Kemp added that his highways and transport department was on track to reach its target for budget cuts, and that officers had identified a possible £500,000 worth of savings.

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