Warning over increasing care costs

Scottish Borders Council logo''April 2009
Scottish Borders Council logo''April 2009
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Scottish Borders Council has been warned the increasing expense of caring for vulnerable people could cost it an extra £1.5m this year.

Chief social worker Elaine Torrance said there were a number of issues that were likely to cause “financial pressure” in 2015-16.

She issued the warning in her annual report to Scottish Borders Council.

She also revealed there was an overspend of more than £1.9m on the social work budget last year.

Ms Torrance said “direct payments” made by the council to eligible families who organise their own social care may have to rise by more than 20%.

“It is simply not meeting the level of costs to clients planning their own care and as a result, a review and increase of this rate is required,” she said.

Budget overspend

An employment appeal tribunal on care workers’ pay has also affected the local authority, she added.

It stated that care workers must be paid the national minimum wage while working a “sleep in” night shift.

Ms Torrance said the ruling had “put a further considerable cost burden on providers and in turn, the council”.

The report also revealed the increased cost of placing looked-after children in residential accommodation outside the Borders had risen sharply.

She said that, in part, accounted for the overspend on the social work budget in 2014-15.

The council has invested £1m over the next five years to meet the increased costs of the out-of-area placements.