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Devon County Council downgrade overspend

Predicted to overspend by nearly £5million

Budget monitoring reports, showing the financial status eight months into the year, shows the council is set to overspend on its budget by £4.8m, a reduction of £3.3m from the forecasted £8.15m after six months.

But the report of Mary Davis, County Treasurer, to a cabinet meeting reveals that  Children’s Services are showing a forecast overspend of £11.1m, an increase of £1.2m from month six.

Mrs Davis’s report says: “Like many other local authorities, the council is continuing to grapple with high levels of demand for Children’s Services. Residential Placements, although more stable than earlier in the year continue to be difficult to contain within the budget allocated and pressures against the high needs block of the dedicated schools grant are increasing.

“The additional funding to support high needs pressures confirmed in December, although welcome, has only served to manage cost increases and pressures within the area that have been experienced since month six. This pressure continues to be a significant cause for concern.”

Children’s Social Care is forecast to overspend by £7.3m, disabled Children’s Services are forecast to overspend by £1.7m, the Atkinson Secure Children’s Home is forecasting an overspend of £420,000, while staffing, quality assurance reviewing and safeguarding service and strategic management budgets are forecasting an overspend of £708,000.

Adult Care and Health services are forecast to underspend by £385,000, compared to £488,000 in month six.

Highways, Infrastructure Development and Waste is forecasting an underspend of £2.4m, compared to a break even position at month six , although the report says that highways service managers remain confident that all planned maintenance programmes will be delivered and that pressures associated with safety defects caused by adverse weather conditions are manageable.

Waste management is forecasting a £400,000 underspend against a breakeven position in month six, Communities, Public Health, Environment and Prosperity are showing a forecast underspend of £762,000, while non- service items are forecast to underspend by £2.8m.

At the November cabinet meeting, a temporary hold on filling backroom job vacancies was implemented, which included delaying filling vacancies for two months after the postholder leaves.

A ban on all non-essential overtime and ending attendance at conferences with associated allowances unless they are externally funded has also been implemented.

Mrs Davis added: “The savings initiatives developed by the council’s leadership group are delivering reductions in revenue expenditure and have contributed to the reduction in the forecast overspend as detailed.”

After the last cabinet meeting, Cllr Stuart Barker, cabinet member for resources management, said that he was as confident as he could be that the council would meet its budget by the end of the financial year.

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