June 18 2013 Latest news:
by Flora Drury
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Haringey Council looks set to blow this year’s budget for housing and adult services by millions - but it will be offset by savings made elsewhere.
A report into the halfway point for this financial year reveals the council is projected to overspend on provision for adult services and housing by as much as £2.1million by the end of March.
But the overspend will most likely be absorbed by an underspend of £3million in a non-service account.
Yet the £2.1million figure hides the true level of the overspend in each department.
Commissioning care services for older people is projected to overspend by £2.8million, blamed on increasing numbers of elderly and longer periods of time during which they need support, both of which have resulted in “severe pressure” on the system, the report says.
Higher demand is also being blamed for a £400,000 overspend in care commissioning for adults with physical disabilities, while spending on adults with mental health needs is also set to overspend by £1.2million.
These costs have been largely off-set by a £1.4million projected saving made in reducing staff budgets, achieved by delaying recruitment on non-essential posts among other things.
Further savings of £1.1million were made on the central care purchasing budget.
Cllr Joe Golberg, cabinet member for finance, said the fact the savings had been made elsewhere was down to “prudent” financial planning, but admitted there was a strain on adult services.
“I am worried about adult services pressures,” he said. “The core [of the council’s work] is about looking after vulnerable older people and vulnerable families and children. What the council really cannot control is the number of people [who need those services].”
He added: “The NHS reforms have a significant impact on our budget, as local government takes more control of public health - which brings both opportunities and challenges.”
Haringey also looks likely to overspend by £1.9million in the Decent Homes programme, a centrally-funded scheme to bring council housing stock up to a minimum standard - the budget for which was slashed in government cuts back in 2011.
But Homes for Haringey (HfH), which runs the council’s housing stock, has said it was a conscious decision on its part to spend more in this department after it realised it had made significant savings in other areas.
A bigger problem for HfH has come from the decision to cut to the Decent Homes funding by £50million over three years. It has meant HfH has been forced to focus its attention on the exterior of its housing stock to ensure people remain warm and dry, rather than replace kitchens and bathrooms as it was able to before the funding cut.
It has led to HfH having to carry out more urgent repairs, meaning its spending has spiralled - currently, the company is forecasting an overspend of £880,000 in its own company account, mainly due to repairs.
An HfH spokesman said: “There has been a significant increase in demand for repairs this year. This is in a context of government reductions to the Decent Homes programme over the last two years and residents are now reporting repairs that would have previously been addressed through our Decent Homes programme.
“We are currently looking at options for containing expenditure within the total company budget.”