Council predicts £5M overspend
HALTON Borough Council leader Rob Polhill has said the authority’s finances are ‘not good’ after a report revealed a predicted annual overspend of over £5m.
At an executive board meeting, the council boss said the overspend did not reflect a crisis, but he criticised the Government for being too distracted by Brexit to listen to the challenges faced by local authorities.
A report on the first quarter period of 2018-19 revealed that revenue expenditure was £1.109m above budget.
It said that based on current spending patterns, projections showed the council will have a year-end ‘out turn’ (actual) overspend position of approximately £5.14m if no corrective action is taken.
The main budget pressure continues to be in the children and families department, despite additional funding of £3m being allocated at the start of the financial year.
The report said that pressures within this department included a significant increase in the cost of agency staff and overtime costs, out-of-borough residential placements and a lack of foster carers.
Tom McInerney (children, education and social care) said that the council had been ‘absolutely hammered’ with budget cuts at a time of increased demand.
Since 2010, the council has suffered a 60% loss in funding.
The year-end overspend position for the children’s department is forecast to hit £3.725m.
David Parr, Halton Council’s chief executive, said that all local authorities across the country were facing these types of budget pressures.
The report recommended that directorates ‘restrict and question any non-essential spend over the remainder of the financial year’.
It said: “It is proposed that for those departments experiencing net overspends to date, strategic directors report back to management team with proposed action plans of how they intend to bring spend back in line with budget.” ●