Less than half of Argyll and Bute’s health and social care partnership overspend to be paid

An overspend of nearly £7 million has been recorded by Argyll and Bute’s health and social care partnership for the past financial year – but less than half of that will have to be repaid.

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A report which was due to go before the partnership’s integration joint board (IJB) on Wednesday (May 29) as the Buteman went to press revealed that the year-end overspend for 2018/19 came to £6.681m.

Interim chief financial officer Kirsty Flanagan reported that this was a deterioration of more than £2.5m from the previous forecast in February.

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However, slightly more than £3.5m of the overspend is for healthcare services provided by NHS Highland and does not have to be repaid due to brokerage from the Scottish Government.

The remaining £3.1m, to be paid to Argyll and Bute Council for social work services, will be paid in annual instalments until 2023. The report added that of all the contributing factors to this overspend, two planned savings of more than £500,000 failed to be delivered.

These were on supported living services for people with learning difficulties and services for older people.

In total, the HSCP must pay the council nearly £4.3m as repayments for the overspends of the last two financial years.

Ms Flanagan said: “The IJB agreed a balanced budget for 2019-20 at their meeting on March 27.

“Any savings options previously agreed that are considered to be undeliverable have been removed from the savings plan. Management/operational savings of £5.058m were agreed.

“Whilst there is a balanced budget, there remain significant risks in delivering the service within budget in 2019/20.

“Many of the budget overspends within the health-related services are continuations of overspends experienced in 2017/18 and 2018/19, and in some cases for years before.

“There is a risk that they continue into 2019/20 until corrective action is taken.

“It is of vital importance that the budget monitoring process for 2019/20 is robust, and when an activity deviates from plan/budget, that budget managers are held to account and corrective action is taken immediately to minimise any future overspends.

“It is also really important that the delivery of savings options agreed for 2019-20 is closely monitored.”

A permanent chief financial officer was the subject of a recruitment process by the partnership earlier this year.