Social work spend hits council budget

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Argyll and Bute Council forecasts an overspend of nearly £3 million by the end of 2018-19, only a third of the way through the financial year.

A report, which was due to go before the authority’s policy and resources committee yesterday (Thursday), states that most of the figure is a £2.4m allocation to social work. An overspend of £350,000 on education and an additional £83,000 on customer services are also forecast.

The document, compiled by the council’s head of strategic finance Kirsty Flanagan, also details an underspend of more than £1.5m by the authority in the 2018/19 year to date. It says: “Steps will be taken to mitigate against this level of overspend continuing throughout the year.

“The [social work] overspend is across a number of services within social work but in the main relates to unidentified savings for the year.

“Work is ongoing to identify additional savings/underspends to cover off the unidentified savings figure of £2.345m.

“The [education] overspend relates to ASN assistants due to significant increase in demand which cannot be avoided. This is a very early estimate at this stage and will be monitored closely going forward with every effort being made to mitigate this overspend.

“The [customer services] overspend relates to the anticipated shortfall in savings re catering and cleaning innovation project – distribution hub £48k construction costs and payback and drinks provision £35k lower than recommended charge rate for milk, creating shortfall.

“The forecast outturn position needs to be closely monitored, particularly the forecast outturn for social work. If there is no improvement in the forecast outturn then consideration will need to be given to putting in place a recovery plan.”

The report also states that the underspend of more than £1.5m is attributable partly to spending less than envisaged on staffing in education.

It adds: “Under the scheme of devolved school management, schools are permitted flexibility at year end, therefore no forecast variance has been processed in relation to this.

“There is also an underspend in relation to the HUB schools due to invoicing delay.”