HEALTH chiefs say a projected overspend on services in Argyll and Bute for the current financial year is now £200,000 less than it was only two months ago.

But Judy Orr, head of finance and transformation with Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership [HSCP], revealed that there was still “potential volatility” in parts of the organisation’s budget.

The forecast end of year overspend, updated from the production of papers for a meeting of the integration joint board [IJB] on Wednesday, November 27, is now less than £1.8 million.

The HSCP’s year to date position, midway through the financial year, has also seen its overspend reduced by nearly half.

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Ms Orr, who was appointed as the head of finance earlier this year, said: “The biggest single improvement has been in relation to older people.

“The outturn is showing an improvement of just over £300,000, which is partially offset on the social work side by movement in the other direction.

“This is in terms of looked after children, with a spend of £118,000 caused by two new external placements. That is a budget with potential volatility.

“On the health side, the forecast outturn has been pretty stable, so we are still focused on an overspend of £300,000.

“There have been improvements in the month of October based on additional savings delivered, but this has been offset by further financial pressures.

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“In terms of the year to date position, the overspend has reduced to £468,000. At the end of September it was £911,000.

"The main reason is again that spending on older people has improved.

“We have noticed some slight inaccuracies but worked on these in October and are confident this is reflected.”

Ms Orr also stated that potential savings measures for care packages in Argyll and Bute have been taken off the table.

The proposals to restrict care packages were met with a furious reaction at the IJB’s previous meeting at the end of September.

Ms Orr added: “There was an action put to consider the option of restricting the priorities for care packages. We have discussed that and have not brought it back.

“What we now have in terms of improving the position is a number of factors which I want to remind the board about.

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“We have a vacancy freeze in place on social work, which is totally enforced by technical reasons, as the My Job Scotland website is due to be down.

“This will be continued with the exception of vacant positions which it is absolutely essential to fill.

"We are taking advice from a professional leadership group and will review this at a finance and policy meeting at the end of January.

“We are also considering a similar measure with health posts and workforce monitoring is already in place, considering whether posts should be filled or not.

“Our processes in relation to project management are also being strengthened.

"Every effort is being made by the IJB to improve the financial position.”

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