Coun­cil pre­dicts £5M over­spend

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page - BY FAYE BROWN faye.brown@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @fayebrownLDR

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.” ●

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