Leeds Council overspend on care services rising unchecked

Leeds City Council’s significant overspend on Adult and Children’s Services last year has continued into the first four months of the current financial year and is rising month on month, according to figures released in a report by the Council’s auditors KPMG.

KPMG said that while its survey of 2010-11 had not identified any areas of the Council’s finances that gave cause for major concern “the scale of the challenge ahead is not to be underestimated and key to this will be managing the overspends in Adults and Children’s which as at month 4 of 2011/12 are showing overspends of £10.6m”.

Adult and Children’s services were largely responsible for a £10.3m overspend by Council directorates in 2010-11, an overspend that was offset by savings of £23.8m.

Figures for the first three months of the year showed the Council heading for an £8.2m overspend for the year with Children’s Services running £5m over budget and Adult social care £2.3m.

“Financial performance to date in 2011/12 demonstrates the continued pressures within Adults and Children’s and the management of these pressures will be critical in the future financial standing of the Authority,” KPMG said.

1,159 jobs lost to 31st March 2011

The KPMG report said the Council was seeking to lose (or save, as KPMG put it) a further 350-400 jobs “in the current financial period” to add to the 1,159 it had lost by 31st March 2011. Of those, 890 had been achieved through voluntary redundancy or early retirement (the Council’s “Early Leavers Initiative” ELI), the rest through not filling vacant posts.

Given that the Council is looking to lose 3,000 jobs in four years, there’s obviously plenty more job losses/savings ahead. It is, in KPMG-speak, “a continual journey”.

“Going forward, due to the continual improvements in service planning the Authority plan to move to an approach whereby the resourcing team will look at the future delivery method of the services and use this to identify the future structure of the directorates,” the report said.

“This method will be utilised as a tool to identify the target numbers for staffing numbers within the Authority based on the most effective, efficient method of service delivery.”

The KPMG report is to be discussed at a meeting of the Council’s Corporate Governance and Audit Committee on Friday 30th September.

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2 Responses to Leeds Council overspend on care services rising unchecked

  1. Not your fault, but this story is rather misleading.

    I’m one of those 1,159 people who’s left earlier than planned, and I used to work in central finance so know the procedures. The spending for all services is reviewed by council staff at the end of every month (more often in some areas), and the month 4 July figures would have been reported to senior management by mid-August. So all KPMG do is look at our figures, take the credit for telling us they’re not good which we knew already, and charge us for the privelege. Yes, that’ll go to committee six weeks later but the discussion won’t go much beyond “what steps have already been taken?”.

    And why the overspend? Social care is pretty much demand-led. The way to keep KPMG and Osborne happy is to put more vulnerable adults back on the streets, to scale back services for the elderly or make them more expensive. I suspect the Yorkshire Post story at http://tinyurl.com/6b954y3 is part of the answer to “what steps have already been taken?”.

    It’s easy to say the council shouldn’t overspend its budget (£90m short of what was needed to keep services at the same level as last year). It’s easy to say we shouldn’t cut services for vulnerable people. It’s impossible to do both those, and bloody difficult to strike a balance.

  2. Thanks for that, Henry. Sorry that you found it misleading.

    The point of the article was to update what the overspend was and note that it was continuing to rise – a matter of interest to all of us. The month 4 figures may well have been reported to senior council management in August, but I couldn’t find anything more recent than the 3-month figures quoted by the Yorkshire Evening Post in August. So I went with the only source for the update I had – KPMG.

    There was no criticism of the overspend intended (and none stated on my part). I realise the Council has an impossible job to keep within budget AND maintain essential services.

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