Councillors assured over projected health overspend

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Assurances have been given to Argyll and Bute Council’s chief executive about arrangements to manage a projected health overspend.

Cleland Sneddon had called for appropriate measures to be put in place after an overspend of nearly £2million for the 2019/20 financial year was forecast by the area’s health and social care partnership (HSCP).

A meeting of the HSCP’s integration joint board (IJB) heard from head of finance and transformation Judy Orr that the projected figure had reduced by more than £200,000 since the writing of a report for the meeting.

The council is due to help the HSCP pay off an overspend in social work services, but it is feared that demand may exceed the financial reserves available.

Mr Sneddon, who is due to leave his post in the New Year, said: ‘It is very helpful to hear these figures from Judy. This paper highlights the concern regarding the proposed overspend and its impact on the parent bodies.

‘In the case of the council, we would use reserves should the projection be realised. I was looking to get assurance from the HSCP that there will be all possible measures taken in relation to non-essential expenditure.

‘I also would like assurance as to how this will be communicated to budget managers. It is helpful to hear about an improvement.’

Councillor Kieron Green, chairman of the IJB, proposed that chief officer Joanna MacDonald should write to Mr Sneddon setting out all actions being considered to address the overspend.

When asked by Councillor Aileen Morton if IJB members would receive the information, Councillor Green said he expected it would be picked up within the measures taking place.

Ms MacDonald said: ‘I am hoping the chief executive and council have some assurance, particularly with the update on last month, but also around governance.

‘We have had meetings on a monthly basis and are robust with information going to all the relevant staff.

‘Last week, every member of the leadership team was touched by financial decisions around our current position.

‘Judy Orr’s papers are better informed and I have confidence around the information which has been presented to you.

‘We have heard about the workforce monitoring and the freeze in vacancies, and we must ensure any financial decisions we make are safe and have the appropriate governance.’