WILTSHIRE Council’s finance chief has called for a review into the amount of funding received from central government as it was revealed the county spends £178million on social care each year.

Councillor Philip Whitehead raised issues regarding the council budget during the Focusing on the Future meeting in Salisbury last week.

He said historically the funding formula put in place by the government had been determined in terms of an area’s deprivation but now needed to take into account the cost of adult and children’s social care, which he said was a “big cost” to local authorities.

Cllr Whitehead said the formula “no longer matches” the social makeup of many counties, where there may be low deprivation, but is typically a more elderly population.

The meeting heard that two thirds of the budget (£178million) was spent on vulnerable people. Of the council tax paid in Wiltshire, £28million goes towards highways and transport, £36million for waste and environment; £26million for commissioning; and £29million for corporate services. £2million is spent on education and skills.

Cllr Whitehead said: “The reality is, across all of the UK, councils are having to make difficult decisions given where we are in terms of the budget we’re allocated for services.”

He added: “We have got to work out a way of doing things better but for less money.”

He said social care services are being transformed through initiatives including “reablement”, when elderly people are coming out of hospital - putting services in place in the first instance to enable them to live at home. He said although this cost is more up front it would make long-term savings. Transformation, this year, has saved £5.6million.

The council is looking at savings through digitisation, which is expected to save up to £5million each year.

Council leader Jane Scott said she had also been working closer with town and parish councils to see if some services can be provided locally.