Council services set to overspend
‘Unexpected’ demands on departments
OVERSPENDING by millions of pounds is expected in two departments dedicated to caring for the elderly and vulnerable in Bucks.
Children’s services, which was deemed ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted last year, has an overspend of £1.3m, which will reduce to £1.1m after an action plan is put in place, according to a county report.
Children’s services is not the only department struggling to make its budget, as health and wellbeing warned of a £1m shortfall – a £300,000 increase of what was expected.
However, the latter has said it expected to be able to meet the cost, by using reserves if needed.
Cabinet member Patricia Birchley said there is an increasing demand for care, which is expected to reach its peak in 2017.
The overspend was due in part to increasing pressure in services, she added, but also Stoke Mandeville Hospital going on ‘black alert’ on December 17.
This meant the hospital was 101 beds short and an emergency team had to be brought in.
“I thought they coped very well,” she said.
“That team worked over Christmas, long hours to help.
“While we are planning ahead, of course there are cases like this that we cannot anticipate.”
Similarly, the overspend for children’s services was put down to ‘unexpected’ demands, such as asylum seekers and families moving to the area that need the county’s help.
Cabinet member Lin Hazel said: “It’s these unforseen cases, where people move to the area, that we can’t plan for. The planned changes we are getting on top of, but you can’t plan for everything.”
The report to cabinet also warns there are ‘limited options’ and recruiting permanent staff could improve the situation but may be ‘difficult to achieve’.
Ms Hazel added: “The other cost to us is the high amount of agency staff we have, we need to make it more attractive to work in Bucks and to have more permanent staff.
“I think it’s an exciting time for social workers if they really want to make a difference. Bucks is a great place to work and they can be part of that.”
Both cases are being monitored by the county council.