Wiltshire Council balanced the books in 2018 and recorded an underspend of £357k on public services. Cabinet member for finance cllr Phillip Whitehead said dDespite a forecast £1.5m overspend, budgets were tightened and the year's spending brought under control. It is the 10th year spending has been on budget. The council's reserves were boosted by £2.1m to £15m, as a savings pot for emergencies.

Cllr Whitehead said: “Despite having significant demand pressures exceeding 10 per cent more on demand, at no time had our budget been more than one of two per cent out during the financial year.

“Children’s services are under huge pressure but have made considerable savings. Child protection plans are up 20 per cent, looked after children are up 10 per cent yet teams are still delivering budget management.”

Cabinet member for children service cllr Laura Mayes added: “The increase in demand has been even greater than forecasted. We had budgeted for 2956 education health and care plans but by the end of March we had 3049. That gives you an idea of the pressure on the high needs block. Those children are entitled to home to school transport, hence an overspend of £900k. The total budget is £8m to provide transport for children across county at the moment.”