The council is facing a £23m gap in funding for the next year even after a planned rise of five per cent on council tax bills.

The pressure on council finances is even greater in future years with the authority facing a £41.6m shortfall over the next three years to 2026/27, before proposed savings.

A draft of the council’s financial strategy is to be put before the council’s cabinet on Wednesday after being refreshed as part of the annual budget setting process due in February 2024.

A review of the council’s finances has indicated a budget gap of £22.6m in 2024/25, £12.8m in 2025/26 and £6.2m in 2026/27.

The report said: “There is still a remaining gap in the 2024/25 budget and that further work will continue to close this over the next two months, before the final budget proposals are made to council members in February 2024.

"These projected financial gaps and budgetary pressures are not unique to Bury Council, this is the landscape which is common across the Greater Manchester authorities and England.”

Previously approved budget cuts agreed in February this year mean that if they are achieved, around £10m of the overall gap over the next three years will be found.

That leaves the council with a budget gap of around £32m over the three years.

The report raised the possibility of using the council’s cash reserves to plug the gap but said that other methods "should" be used.

The report said: “The council can utilise reserves to balance the cumulative budget gap of £32m should the need arise at this moment in time; however, the budget gap should be closed using other means including generating additional income and delivering efficiency savings.”

It is a legal requirement that all local authorities set a balanced budget before the start of each financial year.

It is also a requirement that the council consult with the public on any service closures and changes.

An assumption is made in the plan that council tax bills will rise by the maximum allowed of five per cent, with two per cent of that figure ring-fenced to fund adult social care.

Some of the reasons for the financial pressures include increased demand for services, particularly in children’s services, workforce challenges such as staff turnover and recruitment difficulties and the conversion of schools to academies which impacts education funding.

More details of any further "efficiency savings" needed to plug the hole in the finances are expected to be provided to councillors soon.