Assurances given on social work overspend

Councillor Kieron Green, chair of Argyll and Bute IJB.

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Health chiefs have assured Argyll and Bute Council that they are working to minimise a projected £1.36million overspend on social work.

A report has revealed that the council is facing the projected gap at the end of the 2021/22 financial year in April.

The council assists the area’s health and social care partnership (HSCP) to deliver social work services across Argyll and Bute.

At a virtual meeting of the council’s policy and resources committee on Thursday, August 12, Mid Argyll Independent Councillor Douglas Philand queried the contents of the report which was published in advance.

The report, by executive director Kirsty Flanagan, said: ‘There is a forecast overspend of £1.369m as at the end of June 2021.

‘This projection results from social work and is due to a combination of a high demand for services and some forecast slippage on the delivery of agreed savings.’

Oban North and Lorn Independent Councillor Kieron Green, and Helensburgh Central Conservative Councillor Gary Mulvaney, both members of the HSCP’s integration joint board (IJB) then gave assurances.

Councillor Philand said: ‘There is a real concern for me reading that. What are the savings that are slipping and the reasons for them doing that?

‘Also, it surprises me that so far there is no recovery plan. If we are sitting there with a near £1.5m overspend it would be really good to see what the recovery plan is.’

Laurence Slavin, the council’s interim head of financial services, responded: ‘I cannot speak for the details of the social work savings as that is for the IJB, but a recovery plan is set up as soon as they determine there is going to be a forecast overspend.’

Councillor Green then said: ‘I would just confirm that at the finance and policy committee, we did raise the issue of a financial recovery plan. That will be reported through the usual channels in due course.’

And Councillor Mulvaney added: ‘We are very much looking at the deliverability of savings that will come back to the IJB. Its members are working very closely on scrutinising these.

‘Our record on delivering these planned savings has not been the greatest. This was raised just before going into recess and we have asked for more information again.

‘They may not be our savings as a council but any financial difficulties wind themselves back to us as a partner body.’