Warning over ‘critical’ budget work

Argyll & Bute Council leader Aileen Morton sought assurances.
Argyll & Bute Council leader Aileen Morton sought assurances.

Health chiefs have been warned it is “absolutely critical” that work to reduce a budget gap and overspend moves quickly.

Lesley MacLeod, chief financial officer of Argyll and Bute’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) delivered the warning at a recent meeting of the integration joint board (IJB).

The board must plug a £1.6 million black hole in the HSCP’s budget, but there is currently no plan in place to achieve this.

Ms MacLeod was speaking after the presentation of the HSCP’s accounts for the previous financial year. She said: “We recorded an overspend of £2.5m-£2.8m for the past financial year. We have also started to look beyond the current financial year and there is still a bit of work to be done but, by the time we concluded our annual accounts, we calculated a significant figure of recovery.

“Funding offers have not yet been accepted and we have a budget gap of £1.6m with a forecast overspend of £4.2m. I think what this board wants to concentrate on is how we manage the overspend and how we can get assurance that officers are doing what is required to manage the financial position.

“Board members are concerned about the pace and accountability and I am delighted with Joanna’s opening comments about working with myself and the senior membership team.

“The 2017/18 financial year is gone and has been recorded, we have quite a lot to do in a short space of time and it is absolutely critical we move forward quickly.”

Council leader Aileen Morton sought assurances as the HSPC’s forecast overspend had risen from £4m on August 1 to £4.2m.

Ms MacLeod replied: “That is driven by activity – we have had some in the care home sector.”