THE council’s social work department is fighting a losing battle to break even on its budget this year, councillors were told this week.
A report presented to the executive committee on Tuesday stated that increasing numbers of children requiring specialist care had led to a forecasted overspend of £612,000.
This is after the department’s staff have managed to make savings by reducing third-party costs and reviewing all placements.
The number of children requiring residential and day care due to social, emotional and behavioural needs has increased from 67 when the social work budget was set, to 82 in September.
The report before councillors stated: “The social work management team are continuing to seek to identify savings to reduce the forecast variances, however it is becoming much more challenging to identify further savings within the department.”
The need for a number of ‘high tariff’ placements for children which has arisen in the first half of this financial year has contributed to a £1.1million increase in costs, but with savings proposals identified within the department this had reduced the overspend by £500,000.