ARGYLL and Bute Council’s projected overspend for the 2019/20 financial year has crossed the £2million threshold.

The majority of the forecast £2.066m figure – which has increased by £90,000 from the last update two months ago – is a £1.4m overspend on social work services by the area’s health and social care partnership [HSCP].

But council tax and car parking income are expected to be responsible for a gap of more than £300,000 in the council’s budget between them.

Parking charges are expected to fall short of projections by £165,000, while council tax is predicted to have a £146,000 shortfall.

And a report by the authority’s head of strategic finance states that a review of the council tax budget will be undertaken to ensure the base budget is at the right level for 2020/21.

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Kirsty Flanagan’s document, reflecting figures at the end of October, will be considered by the council’s policy and resources committee at its meeting on Tuesday, December 17.

Ms Flanagan made specific reference to the projected overspend by the HSCP, which she acknowledged has decreased over recent months.

She said: “A financial recovery plan was approved by the Integrated Joint Board [IJB] on August 7.

“It has since been reported to the IJB on September 25 that the recovery plan will be insufficient to achieve financial balance.

“Although the forecast outturn position has improved, further review of the agreed savings has shown that delivering 50 per cent of most of the savings has been over optimistic.

“Further savings options have now been proposed in a new recovery plan, and this was approved by the board on September 25, with the exception of one saving in respect of care packages for older people, which has to be brought back to the board.”

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The saving in question was not brought back to the IJB at its meeting on Wednesday, November 27.

Its head of finance and transformation Judy Orr said that discussions had taken place.

Ms Flanagan continued: “The forecast outturn for social work has seen an improvement over the last few months.

“This improvement month on month gives some assurance that actions by management and agreed within the recovery plan are making a difference and are bringing the outturn down.

“It remains to be seen as to what further reductions can be made to the forecast outturn but there are still outstanding actions to be delivered. I will continue to liaise closely with the IJB’s head of finance and transformation on this issue.

“The comments above don’t take into consideration the most significant risk affecting the forecast outturn position (on the health side), and that is the service level agreement for Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

“A decision was taken at the IJB to reject the increase and the current forecast outturn reflects this position.

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“If this position is not accepted by Greater Glasgow and Clyde then there is a risk that the outturn overspend could increase by up to £2million, impacting on health.

“There remains a significant estimated budget gap in future years and officers are currently developing options to reduce the gap, however, to date insufficient options have been identified to bridge the estimated gap.”

Health services are delivered to the HSCP by NHS Highland and not the council.

Ms Flanagan’s report also stated that the council, as of the end of October, had an underspend for the year to date of over £4.5m.

She added: “More focus is on the forecast outturn position, hence why sometimes the year to date position is not updated.

“The year to date variances mainly relate to the timing of income and expenditure and recharging of costs to capital.”

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