Council predicts £4.2m underspend despite social-care pressures

Northumberland County Council
Northumberland County Council

Northumberland County Council’s finances this year are ‘a positive picture overall in challenging times’, with a £4.2million underspend now forecast.

However, a report to Tuesday’s (February 12) meeting of the authority’s cabinet was not all good news.

The budget process for 2018-19 took account of a gap of £8.2million and, while savings totalling £6.8million have been fully realised to date or good

progress is being made, the remaining £1.4million requires further work ‘as a result of the service encountering a delay or an issue which does not enable

it to deliver the saving as it was envisaged’.

The financial performance report also explains that there are emerging budget pressures totalling £3.4million in relation to adult services and children’s social care, with provision for this being made in the latest financial plan, which is set to be signed off next week.

Overall, the adult wellbeing and health portfolio is projecting an underspend of £1.3million, but external social care is expected to overspend by £2.7million and the forecast also includes an additional £1.5million grant received from the Government this year.

Money being spent externally is also partly responsible for the overall £2million overspend being predicted in children’s services – over and above the additional £3million in this year’s budget – where out-of-county residential placements are set to overspend by £3million.

In terms of other departments, the forecast is for a £2.2million underspend in corporate services; a £0.08 overspend in culture, arts and leisure; a £2.1million underspend in environment and local services; and a £0.6million underspend in planning, housing and resilience. There are ‘no significant issues to raise at this stage’ in relation to economic development.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service