WILTSHIRE Council is confident it will not need to use any of its £13million of reserves to balance its budgets.

Nearly £13 million has been earmarked for reserves by Wiltshire Council, the equivalent of four per cent of the total budget.

When asked whether that amount was set to increase, cabinet member for finance Cllr Philip Whitehead confirmed that it could increase by £1-2 million, but said he he was “confident” in the current levels of stored money the council has ready for emergency use.

During a scrutiny meeting into the budget for the next financial year, which is being proposed at £332million, Cllr Whitehead defended the reserves figure and said that while other council have used reserves to pay for council overspend, Wiltshire Council is set to balance its books.

Cllr Stewart Dobson said: “Our reserves equate to four per cent and although I’m not in favour of huge reserves, as I know some local authorities have very large reserves, is there a chance we could increase to a little higher figure? I know external auditors say it is adequate, but at the end of the day our reserves are our backstop. Is there a chance we might be able to increase that?”

Cllr Whitehead said: “I am entirely happy with the adequacy of our reserves and so are the auditors. There’s a large side of me that says I don’t want money sat there doing nothing, if you put £10m in reserves, that is £10m not spent on transformation. "I question some authorities who have huge reserves and are struggling to meet their annual revenue budgets, why aren’t they spending their money on providing better services?"“Others have used them year on year to combat not balancing their budget. We balance our budget year on year so our reserves have remained absolutely stable. Having said that, if we had the opportunity to increase it by £1-2 million I would increase them by that.“I’m totally happy they remain at that level and am confident we won’t need to drill down on them.” Nationally local authorities have £3.382 billion in unearmarked reserves.