An “unanticipated” increase in adult service demand has complicated a council’s financial challenges despite “improvements in processes and approach” over the past few months.

Councillors heard an update on Windsor and Maidenhead’s financial situation at its November 29 cabinet meeting.

It comes following a warning in September that the council was more than £200m in debt and risked becoming the latest to issue a Section 114 notice – which would declare the authority effectively bankrupt.

Council finance lead councillor Lynne Jones told cabinet: “In September, senior officers highlighted that there was a serious overspend against budgets in February, and there was a risk of issuing a Section 114 notice.

“Improvements in processes and approach, including a spending panel, have been put in place and we are seeing very positive results.”

She noted that month six figures showed an improvement of nearly £1 million on month five – largely due to reduced contract costs, project costs and increased income.

However, month seven has seen a growth in demand for statutory adult services due to “additional complex needs” and additional audit fees of some £400,000.

The report considered by councillors described the increase in adult service demand in month seven as “unanticipated” and added “it reflects the volatility we are facing and it should be noted that without the exceptional efforts already in place, the overall position would be an additional million pounds worse than that forecast in month five as opposed to appearing seemingly unchanged.”

Measures previously announced by the council included requiring all non-essential spending to be approved by a Spending Control Panel.

The report reads: “The position at month seven is worse than that reported at month five, but this does not truly reflect the improvements in processes and approach that have been quickly implemented over the last couple of months to reduce the in year overspend.

“This work has been done at pace and has required the cooperation of all directorates and the ongoing support of members, all of which has happened.”

Speaking before cabinet, council leader Simon Werner criticised the budget brought in by the previous administration.

He said: “It’s our duty as the administration to fix the mess we’ve inherited.”

The report added that the cost of servicing debt remains a “key concern” and that all current and proposed capital expenditure is under review to reduce new borrowing requirements.

Council assets are also being evaluated to see if money to repay debt could be generated through disposals.