The County Council is Overspending by £5.8m Two Months into the New Financial Year

By Mick Scrimshaw on July 10, 2019

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At July’s County Council Cabinet meeting the first finance report of the 2019/20 financial year reported a projected overspend of £5.77m after just the first two months of the year.

On behalf of the Labour opposition I addressed the Cabinet and reminded them that at the time of the budget setting earlier in the year we had not supported the budget saying it was not robust enough and would start falling apart very early on in the financial year. We spoke of how the forecasting of demand in children and adult's social care couldn't be relied on and of the £40m worth of savings proposals included in the budget had not being thought through properly and were not certain to be achieved.

I went on to say “today we see that it is exactly these issues that are already causing problems. Extra demand and higher costs in both children’s services and in adults are already being recorded. These pressures already have to be mitigated by the use of the council’s meagre reserves and we all know that these reserves will run out very quickly if this position continues. We also see throughout this report that pressures are coming from some of those individual savings proposals, the ones we said were ill-though out and not robust, already being written off as undeliverable. If it’s clear that they cannot be delivered this early in the financial year, we have to ask ourselves what they were doing in the budget in the first place.”

In response the leader of the council said:

“I ‘m certainly not aware of the projected savings as being written off as undeliverable”

I would like to refer him to the following statements from his finance report:

Page 62 (5.8)           The reported position includes a £5,561k pressure due to the non-delivery of savings proposals

Page 63 (5.9)           The Agency Staff Conversion saving …… may not meet the savings target.

Page 63 (5.10)        The Reorganisation saving of £1,207k will not be delivered

Page 63(5.12)         Of the £1,200k placement sufficiency savings proposal only £240k is currently expected to be achieved. This is due to slippage in the implementation of the projects.

Page 63 (5.13)        The negotiation with non-framework providers proposal totalling £300k is not expected to deliver at all.

Page 63 (5.14)        The review of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) accommodation saving totalling £200k is currently expected to deliver £40k. Whilst the first new provision is now operational, there has been some slippage in implementation of the full offering.

Page 64 (5.18)        Of the total £350k savings proposed in relation to the review of appeals rights exhausted / no recourse to public funds accommodation, [only] £75k is expected to be realised.

Page 67 (5.32)        The reported position includes a net pressure of £649k due to the non-delivery of savings

Page 67 (5.33)        This month NASS are reporting non-delivery of savings of £649k

Page 67 (5.34)       The budget saving of £240k for Mental Health Section 117 contributions is now not expected to be delivered in the form described in the current business case.

Page 67 (5.35)        The delivery of £166k, savings proposal relating to Saxon Court will now not be achieved.

Page 67 (5.36)        Of the £248k budgeted savings relating to Shaw Funded Nursing Care (FNC), £198k will be achieved resulting in a pressure of £50k.

And that is by no means all of the items included in the Cabinet report. I will leave it to you to decide whether I or the Leader of the Council was right about savings proposals not being met.

Mick Scrimshaw is the Leader of the Labour Group at Kettering Borough Council, the Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance at Northamptonshire County Council. He has a public record of standing up for Kettering as a County Councillor for the Northall division in Kettering, Northants and since May 2015, a Borough Councillor for the William Knibb ward. He is a keen cyclist and also runs a family business with his wife.

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