Massive overspend forecast already

Councillors heard the report at the recent policy and resources committee meeting at Kilmory.
Councillors heard the report at the recent policy and resources committee meeting at Kilmory.

Argyll and Bute Council is forecasting a total overspend of nearly £3 million for 2018-19 – only a third of the way through the financial year.

A report considered by the authority’s powerful policy and resources committee at its August meeting reveals that most of the predicted figure relates to a £2.4 m forecast overspend on social work services.

An overspend of £350,000 on education, due to increased demand for additional support needs, and an additional £83,000 being spent on customer services relating to cleaning and catering, is also forecast.

The document, compiled by the council’s head of strategic finance Kirsty Flanagan, also details an underspend of more than £1.5m by the authority in the 2018-19 year to date.

Ms Flanagan says in her report: “Steps will be taken to mitigate against this level of overspend continuing throughout the year.

“The [social work] overspend is across a number of services within social work but in the main relates to unidentified savings for the year.

“Work is ongoing to identify additional savings/underspends to cover off the unidentified savings figure of £2.345m.

“The [education] overspend relates to additional support needs assistants due to significant increase in demand which cannot be avoided.

“This is a very early estimate at this stage and will be monitored closely going forward with every effort being made to mitigate this overspend.

“If there is no improvement in the forecast outturn then consideration will need to be given to putting in place a recovery plan.”

The report also goes on to state that the underspend of more than £1.5m so far this year is partly because the council has spent less than expected on staffing in education.

It adds: “Under the scheme of devolved school management, schools are permitted flexibility at year end, therefore no forecast variance has been processed in relation to this.”